Am I ever going to learn?

I am not sure whether to say that “I learn something every day “or to say “am I ever going to learn?”
We go through life and it is more often than not chaotic, tumultuous, confusing and stressful. We tend to put our faith in our spouses, our friends, our jobs, our money, and any one of a thousand things that lend supposed support. All too often though, even when that support is well meaning (or not so much) it ends up causing more trouble or even confusing us even further.
The more we try the harder life seems to get.

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans. Psalm 118:8

So then we try the next best thing. We go to church, listen to what we are supposed to do, go home and do it. We trust in ourselves to get the job done. As time goes on and things are not improving we pray and tell God that it just isn’t working. Show me why Lord.

Apart from Him we can do nothing. John 15:5

We get a little frustrated and a lot desperate and finally we decide that it may be time to turn the things that are causing us such trouble, over to God.
God desires that we trust Him above all others, He wants us to put our confidence and trust in only Him. Not some of the time, not most of the time, not when we feel it is something we can’t handle.
God wants us to lean on Him ALL THE TIME.
I realize that life being what it is makes that darn hard. We have been hurt, cheated, manipulated, lied to, and abused. This makes it hard to trust anyone and makes it tempting to fall into the “If I want something done right I have to do it myself” frame of mind. But I believe that to trust yourself that much is to NOT give God the trust He desires.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths Proverbs 3:5,6

There really isn’t a big secret to trusting God. You make the choice, you are either going to trust God or you are going to continue to live in constant chaos and heartache.
Decide that you will take the steps necessary to hear from God and live the life He offers. The Bible gives us wisdom and the ability to start to think the way our Lord thinks. As you read His word you will gain confidence in God and know beyond the shadow of a doubt that He is near and waiting to help.
It is time to start living as He is leading us to and not by the way WE feel, think or desire.
It is time to trust Him to help us do what He is asking but when we are finished doing that to say, God I am trusting you to finish this.
Dottie
…………………………….and so I ride11667502_10206102875364848_3660870545542513403_n

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War is not easy………….ever

This Spiritual Warfare stuff has had me thinking for the last week or so and you know me, when I get going on something I beat it to death, or at least research it until I feel comfortable in my spirit that I have found what God was trying to show me. Then of course…………..I write about it.

I am going to warn you right now, this is going to be longer than what I usually write but then again, this is a very important and relevant to our times, subject. I should also apologize in advance if I offend anyone, but once again I am going to say what God is laying on my heart.

Let’s start with an interesting fact I read about this morning. I read that between 3600 B.C. and now there have been over 14,000 wars fought. During that time there were over 5,300 years of war and only 292 years of peace.

It becomes more evident every day that we live in a world where violence, war, disease, and oppression are commonplace and always have been. You would not think that it could happen in a modern world but Open Doors Ministry says that last year alone over 2,000 Christians were killed for their faith. Churches are relentlessly and consistently being attacked and Ebola is savagely rampaging through the land.

Unfortunately this is nothing new and the Bible tells us that Jesus predicted just that.  “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. … For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” Matthew 24:6, 7.

It is a classic and cosmic clash between the forces of good and evil and guess what, like it or not, we as Christians are fighting on the front line. I think that the scary thing for me, and probably most of us if we are honest, is that this is a battle where we usually can’t see the opponent clearly. What or who we think is causing us trouble is only the effect of what is going on in the spiritual realm. According to scripture, our battle is “against the rulers, powers and world forces of wickedness located in the spiritual realm. That is a deadly serious statement.

So like I wrote not too long ago. Whatever is going on in your physical world, in the world you can see, that action is rooted and started in the invisible, spiritual realm. Make no mistake however, the fact that this battle rages in the spiritual realm does not make it any less real or less capable of destruction and calamity.

I think an important point to remember (maybe the only point to consider really) is that this intense spiritual struggle isn’t waged to gain land or diamonds or gold, it is waged to gain human hearts. It is a no holds barred, down and dirty fight for your soul.

It would seem we need extraordinary weapons to fight this epic war, the best money can buy. Weapons that only the brilliant scientists and military experts can come up with. We are quick to go out and buy the latest gadgets, often emptying our bank accounts but more importantly putting our faith in weapons that are not going to win this war for us.

No weapon made on this earth, no matter the cost, is the kind of weapon that the Bible tells us will win this war. There is only one kind of weapon that will gain us victory in a war fought in the spiritual realm and that is armor and weapons that are also spiritual. You might as well be fighting defenseless or with plastic guns if you are fighting the prince of darkness with anything from this world.

But wait a minute, there is more to this. As we are so fond of doing, we can’t pick and choose which armor we put on, scripture tells us it has to be the armor of God. However, if you look at Ephesians 6:10-11 more closely it tells you exactly what you need to clothe yourself in to fight the devil’s schemes. We need to put on the FULL armor of God, or as other versions say, the WHOLE armor of God.

It repeats that directive in verse 13. It doesn’t say, put on the belt and breastplate because that is the most fashionable at the moment or only the shield of faith and helmet of salvation because you happen to look good in helmets, prayer alone doesn’t cut it, nor does wielding only the sword.

Nope, we are to dress in full gear, our war gear is to be comprised of the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, your gospel shoes, the Sword of the Spirit (Word of God) and prayer in the Spirit.

I apologize to you in advance if what I say next offends you or if you find it politically incorrect. But I am going to say it anyway.

I think it is a pretty common thing for us as frail and earthly humans to dance mighty close to enemy lines but still want to reap the spiritual rewards. Judging from world and personal events it is probably time to quit associating with the edges of darkness and start standing for what we believe. You know the old saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

We can’t win this battle by lowering our standards to earthly standards, God’s standards are never moving, never changing and the only standards that will win this battle we are in.

Maybe it is time to quit discussing the armor that God has given us and start using it. In addition to the promise of giving us all the armor we need to win this battle, God gives us the answer to the question we are all asking ourselves right now…………how in the world can I stand up to the prince of darkness, how can I fight when the devil wouldn’t know a fair fight if it hit him in the face?

John 15:5……………..I am the vine, you are the branches, If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Ephesians 6:10  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.

Philippians 4:13 I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME

Dottie

……………and so I ride

Faith makes possible not easy

What do you spend your time doing?

We take months to plan the perfect vacation. We spend hours and hours to research the best routes, the most comfortable motels and the tastiest restaurants. All this to have the vacation of our lives. We spend hours pouring over the latest home interior magazines, paint swatches and drag our significant other to store after store when we re-decorate our homes so we get it just right.
Heck on a less grand scale when we eat out we have to decide first what kind of food we are wanting then we take many precious moments going over the menu so that we are sure to order exactly what we are craving.
In other words, we take a lot of time out of our busy lives to plan for the things that have meaning to us and can make our world a little better, a little more comfortable and a little showier. It feels like time well spent.
Then there are the times we are sitting in the Dr’s office and we get bad news, or we are sitting in our office and our work world feels like a hostile and evil battlefield. What about when our children are following every worldly path except the one we want them to follow, or when our spouse leaves us for greener pastures?
There are times in our lives when silence is the only sound and fear and despair are so thick and fluid that it creeps into every open crevice available. Those are the times that you cannot think straight and you have to rely on the truths hidden in your heart that are automatic and come to the surface unbidden.
Those are the times I come to understand fully that it matters a great deal what I spend my time doing and what I hide in my heart. All the travel magazines, interior design material, recipes and menus I spend so much time on are not going to help me much when the real battles between light and dark press close.
Unfortunately we are guaranteed those hard times, life is going to be life and bad things do happen to good people. There will seem at times, to be no escape and the light seems to grow dimmer and dimmer until finally it is only a flicker.
The key to making it through these times I truly believe is to be stronger on the inside than the problems facing us on the outside.
Do we make sure the words and promises of God are familiar and comfortable? Are those promises resting in our heart and are we letting those promises get us through that which is plaguing us?
Do you live in the truth that God really is our refuge and our strength or is it only a vague promise to you? God can give us peace, hope and gladness, NO MATTER what is swirling around us.
Are we keeping our eyes on the Lord our God and only the Lord our God?
But to have that we must make the commitment to be in the Word of God daily, we must choose the foundation on which we build our lives.
Just like planning a killer vacation, or decorating an award winning home, living with the peace of God takes work, planning, determination and diligence. However, unlike the temporal vacation or earthly home, the rewards we reap from the work we put into our relationship with God are forever. There is no storm strong enough to erode the Word of God once firmly planted in our hearts.
Dottie
………………..and so I rideheart

Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare, like so many other things I think Satan works overtime to keep us from taking the magnitude of this seriously.

Have you ever stopped to think that although this cosmic conflict is raging in the invisible spiritual realm it is given earthly details and becomes personal as it is played out here in the visible realm? In other words, although the roots of the war is played out in the invisible spiritual realm and you cannot see it, the effects of the war are all too often clearly evident.

Let me back up a minute however. Let’s look at Ephesians 6:10-12. We are all familiar with it, but let’s look again. Particularly verse 12.

Ephesians 6:10-12New International Version (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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.

Paul says our battle 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.”

So it isn’t about our neighbor, our co-worker, our family, and our spouse, our health, or anybody or anything on this earth actually. Humans are simply the conduits of the battle raging in the spiritual realm. If I am reading this and understanding it correctly, if it is going on in your physical, visible realm, it is rooted in the spiritual, invisible realm.

It could be that we are fighting the wrong battle? No matter how hard we try or what we try, if we do not know how to navigate and connect with the spiritual realm and the help we can find there, we are not going to win this battle. If we try to fix our problems with worldly solutions it is not going to work for long.

It was also interesting to read Ephesians 1:3. It tells us that Jesus Christ has “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

Sooooooo, everything God is ever going to do for us, every spiritual blessing, every promise, every gift, every hope is already deposited in the heavenly realm and is waiting with our name on it. If it is waiting in the heavenly realm means it is eternal and not temporal because they are from Christ’s spiritual realm and not this very temporary earthly realm in which we live.

Satan would have us believe this is not so.

Now look at Ephesians 1:19-20New International Version (NIV)

19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

Oh praise God for His wisdom, not only are our blessings waiting for us with our names written on them, but guess what, Jesus is waiting there also.

So when we get bogged down in the fight, when we are too tired to go on and feel there is no winning this war, grab onto the little package with your name on it. Unwrap it and live it.

Dottie

……………and so I ride

Hope……..it’s all it’s chalked up to be

It’s been a tough summer; well actually it’s been a tough year. Major surgery, watching my Dad pass, a work situation that was so critical and preposterous it borders on stupid and last week I got the worst news a Mom can get.
I admit, it brought me to my knees. My world felt like it was crashing around my shoulders.
It is hard to remain hopeful when you have already lost what you hold most dear and are in danger of losing even more. It is hard to remain hopeful when you hear “the odds are not in our favor”. Suddenly life is no longer as it was. Life is hard when it makes no sense at all.
As long as I was already down on my knees, I stayed there awhile because in all actuality, I was incapable of getting up. God reminded me that life will be life, deal with it.
That is the secret actually, choosing how we deal with “it”.
I was reminded that I had a full bucket to help me deal with tough situations. At the end of the day I am surrounded by friends that know the true meaning of friendship, I am surrounded by a husband and three wonderful sons that give more that they receive, I am surrounded by a sister, brother, nephews, Mom and other family who give support, sunshine, comfort and laughter every second of every day. I have a wonderful job, wonderful staff and we are making a difference in Gillette.
The truth is, the sun is probably going to come up each morning, I am probably going to be around to see it, I am probably always going to have a job to go to, food to eat, and some sort of clothing to wear. I am probably going to be able to ride my motorcycle for a good long while and live a life that is comfortable and meaningful.
None of those things however are guaranteed to us.
Staying positive helps, affirmation and solid core messages help, but as important as those things are, there is only one place that I can dwell that is going to bring me through this.
God can get us through, of that we can be sure.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Hope………..fix your eyes on what you cannot see, there you will find eternal rest.

Need I say more?

Dottie

………………..and so I rideHardships

Satan is real

Satan is real.
When we become Christians we tend to think that life is now going to be an uneventful road strewn with roses to smell and our life will be free and easy from here on. You generally don’t associate words like discouragement, pain, disappointment, warfare, destruction, with a life as a Christian.
However the truth is when you receive Christ you not only become a new creature, you gain an adversary, Satan. Make no mistake, the empire that Satan rules has a strategy and it is evil. This evil empire is mentioned in the Bible. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. “
Wow, that seems pretty clear and to the point. Satan does not care who he comes after, he just wants to prevent us from enjoying our freedom in Christ. He wants to prevent anyone who is threatening his territory and trying to advance the Kingdom of God. I think it is a pretty safe bet that if you have a calling from God to go forth and spread the good news, Satan is going to do whatever he can to prevent that from happening.
I don’t know about you, but that is kind of scary to me and definitely not what I signed on for. It reminds me of the one phrase I hear at work (and tends to upset me) I’m not paid enough to do that. As Christians it would seem that “it’s not our job” to fight Satan.
It makes me want to hunker down under my blanket in a corner somewhere and stay there. At times it gets bad enough that you feel like it might be simpler to shut down whatever ministry you have going or whatever heavenly work you are doing in the hopes that Satan will back off and the attacks will stop.
That is just what Satan wants you to do.
Just as the Bible tells us that Satan is walking around looking to devour us, we are given some pretty awesome and just as potent tools for fighting. Satan may be a roaring lion but we are given full armor to bring the beast under control.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:17-18)
No one said this journey would be easy and rest assured, at times, it won’t. But we can go on counter attack and declare God’s word and promises as our own, we can assert who we are in Christ and we can confidently proclaim our victory. “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.” (Isaiah 54:17)
When Satan comes as we surely know he will, rest in the closeness and the presence of our Lord God. These attacks won’t last forever, nothing here on earth does. Pick up your Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God and pursue closeness to Jesus that will offer the only true refuge we need.
Dottie
……………..and so I ride
sword-of-the-spirit

Devotional verses this morning were Psalms 107:1, Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever, and the armor of God scriptures, Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power……………

This might not sound significant to you but believe me with what is going on in my life right now, those scriptures are exactly what I need and the timing, as usual, is perfect. This morning I have answered prayer to be thankful for and the armor of God to rely on when necessary.

Let me regress just a bit, when researching the armor of God one thing stands clear, Satan does wage a spiritual battle whether we choose to believe it or not. It seems that we sometimes like to ignore the fact that in fact, there is a war going on and that makes us easy prey. I also think that the true nature of Satan and the lengths he will go to in this war are total

The same could be said of Satan, and those whom he opposes. Many of his victims do not even know there is a war going on. They make easy prey. Christians should know that we are in the midst of a great spiritual struggle, although many seem not to believe it. And even more distressing is the fact that many who consider themselves “in the war” do not understand the nature or viciousness  of Satan’s schemes, of the weapons which he employs, or of the weapons which God has provided for our defense.

It is one thing to read about God’s power, it is quite another to rely on it. Oh here we are back to this trust thing, go figure. Satan has one goal, to defeat those who love God. When we turn to God, we automatically and definitely gain an enemy, Satan. It is not a battle we can avoid or run from, but it is a battle we are given the means to stand and fight, if we choose to. It won’t do any good to hide our heads in the sand or ignore this war, it rages whether we believe it, ignore it or run from it. Yes, we are assured of certain victory but just as certain we are assured of struggles on this earth. I chose to stand on Christ my rock. So I guess this didn’t go anywhere near where I was planning to go when I started writing, as is often the case. Though I am thankful beyond words for some reason this is what flowed out of me this morning. More to come…………DottieChrist my rock

Not where I was planning to go but this is what flowed out of me this morning……………