Are you willing to look at yourself in a different way?

How is your life defined?

We take on lots of identities in our lives. When asked to define who you are, do you answer with any of the following? Your occupation, your hobbies, your family (son, daughter, brother, sister), your habits (smoker, gambler, drinker, emotional eater, etc), a disability, your political affiliation, your education, your race, your health, whether you are married or not, your religion, your friends, the area of the world you live in, your gender, your economic status. These are some of the 21 major categories that people use to define themselves.

What exactly does define a person? Friends come and go and will judge you based on your actions, then they will define you as a good or bad friend. Interests and circumstances can change. You can lose a job or get a new job. If you are a Northerner, what happens when you move south? If you define yourself because you smoke, drink, overeat or gamble your wealth away, how do you define yourself when you are cured of those things?

Society defines us by physical and mental attributes, actions, values, interests, attitude about life, our intentions, and what we believe in.

       

I hate to burst your bubble but none of that stuff defines who you are. Above all else, we as Christians are first and foremost heirs in the family of God. We are His children, He loves us not as one of many on the crowded planet but as individually and uniquely as He created us. Compared to that, nothing else matters.

However, we have to be willing to step away from how the world defines us and look at ourselves in a different way.

Can you look at yourself and see that you are complete in Him? Do you see that your are holy and without blame? Can you feel the peace that surpasses all understanding? There is a spirit of wisdom and enlightenment within you now…….do you recognize it? You live as a child of the King and you are the workmanship of God’s personal hand. You are a believer and doer of the Word. You can find lots of lists of scripture about who you are in Christ, on the internet. It is a good study.

Are you willing to see yourself for who you really are? NEVER MIND what the world thinks of you, God’s opinion is the only one that counts. Accept and agree with the things that God says about you. Your identity in Christ does not depend on something you do or have done. God alone says who you are.

 Are you willing to look at yourself in a different way, to look at yourself as God looks at you?

No one says it better than Jonathan Cahn, “Today open your mind, your heart, and your life to that which you don’t yet know, that you might contain that which is greater than yourself.”

Dottie

…………and so I ride

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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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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

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

Put fear in it’s proper place, in God’s hands

When you are facing something scary and difficult it is really hard not to panic and give in to despair. As I am watching my Dad slip further and further away it is hard to keep the emotions and fear at bay. I think that it is so hard to watch because it represents so many things.
It represents the end of things as we knew them. It represents uncertainty and if I am honest, it represents a fear inside that time is marching on and the same thing that is happening to Dad could happen to any of us.
I have always been pretty good in a crisis and have lived through some pretty tough stuff. In all those circumstances the hardest thing to battle was the fear. It was the greatest enemy. Fear will paralyze and cripple you. Fear will take your focus off God,
I am finding now, just as I did in all those other crisis, that if I can recognize the opportunity in this situation to learn something more about God, it helps to diffuse the fear. Though the situation is so painful it almost leaves me breathless, God is still God. He is near and that is comfort.
I have to be disciplined and make myself listen for God when He whispers guidance. I have to quiet the fear and rest in trust. It would be easy to curse God and become trapped in despair but isn’t it really just as easy to rejoice and praise God for what I have.
Romans 8:28
I admit that when I am hurting it is hard to remember that God is going to work this out for my good. But for me anyway the secret to the truth of this scripture is realizing that this is a place of refuse I can always come back to. If I remove the fear and trust that God is God, I can cuddle up in the knowledge that after the pain the sun will shine again. I have to hold onto the truth that tomorrow promises a glorious dawn.
A thought comes to me this morning (placed there by something I read somewhere I’m sure), I think sometimes we go through difficult times not because God doesn’t know how strong we are, but rather because we don’t know how strong we are. With God here beside me, I have all the strength I need. Amenimages (3)

Gossip, it has the power to consume everything in its path

Human nature, we are all human, we are all imperfect and believe me we all act like it.
One of the most powerful things we have in our possession is something we can use for good or bad, with this weapon we can move mountains or we can watch as things go up in smoke because we didn’t use this weapon in the right way.
Words, a few simple words have the power to change things in a big way. The trouble is that way can be either good or bad, depending on how those words are used.
We as Christians try to avoid those pesky things called sin. Apostle Paul gives us a list, in Romans 1:29-31 we are told that the list includes, evil, greed, envy, murder, deceit, malice, gossip and slanderers, arrogance, disobedience.
Did you catch the fact that gossip is included in this list. Gossip is nothing more than our words spoken to another. Seems pretty innocent.
A couple of thoughts are running around my mind. I read a very good example of gossip that painted an excellent word picture.
We have all lighted kindling and set that kindling beneath a stack of logs. The fire began to spread first to one log then to another until finally the blaze is burning hot and consuming all in its path.
Words are just words but if they are about someone else and their life and those words are whispered to another, good intentioned or not, those words become gossip. Those words are more likely than not going to be like that kindling, they are going to spread whether we swear the hearer to secrecy or not.
Yes, I know that most times when we talk to someone else we claim we do it to try to get a better understanding of the situation, to try to sympathize with the person we are gossiping about but are we accomplishing any of that by talking to another person about a situation that we cannot possible know all the pertinent details about and most probably only have unsubstantiated facts about? Don’t assume you know all the facts even if you are a good friend who has seen more than your share of the situation.
The thing is, the person you are talking to someone about is a real person with feelings, and they are not their situation. They are a hurting, vulnerable, humiliated, embarrassed, dejected and feeling hopeless real life person.
Your good intentions can backfire and leave the person being talked about feeling like an outsider and questioning good intentions and their walk with God and more than likely wanting to crawl into a hole and never come out. Yes, I am preaching to the choir here but life has a way of teaching us valuable lessons.
If you must talk about a situation that someone is dealing with, talk with the person dealing with the situation, or better yet, talk with God. He will give you solid guidance.
Dottie
…………………………..and so I ride.