The Dark Christmas Tree

I walked downstairs this morning into the darkness of the living room. The Christmas tree sat in the corner engulfed in the darkness. There were no more presents under the tree and it seemed as if the beautifully decorated tree had no purpose and should probably be taken down and put back in the box to be stored in the garage.

After all the work it took to put the Christmas tree up I told myself to turn it on and enjoy it for just a few days longer. I walked over, flipped the switch and watched as the dark corner was bathed in a soft beautiful glow. The golden ornaments sparkled and the once dark corner took on a shimmer and glow that warmed my heart.

Just looking at the Christmas tree shimmering in the golden glow reminded me that the long gone presents that were stacked under the tree were not the real gifts we received at Christmas. We have received the promise of Christmas.

If I could wrap one gift that I want everyone to have it would be the promise of Christmas. Oh sure, we love the earthly traditions of Christmas, the gathering of family, an abundance of good food, presents, tinsel, glitter and ornaments. But those things are short-lived and often disappointing adornments for the calendar day of December 25th. The real promise of Christmas, the one that is available to each and every one of us lives year around and isn’t dependent on someone buying it, wrapping it and putting it under the tree. The real promise of Christmas is about a promise God made to mankind years ago, a promise of salvation.

 The real promise of Christmas is all about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So when I walk into the dark room with the dark Christmas tree, I am not sad and depressed that the presents are gone and the promise of Christmas is over. I flip that switch and watch as the soft glow lights the tree and reminds me that the real promise of Christmas is alive and strong. The real promise of Christmas lives in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So go ahead, flip that switch on the dark Christmas tree in the corner. Watch as our Lord’s Holy Name is lifted up, glowing for all to see. Let each Christmas light remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.

 Rejoice, for this is the season of hope and promises and it does not end when the tree is taken down.


Dottie

……………and so I ride

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What would Jesus do?

What Would Jesus Do? Do you remember the WWJD craze of the 1990’s? Brings back memories doesn’t it? I could go into the whole history of how it originated but that is not what I want to talk about. Charles Spurgeon summed it up quite nicely when he said; What Jesus would do, and how He would do it, may always stand as the best guide.
What Would Jesus Do? It seems a hypothetical question but in reality it is not.
How do we know in this day and age what Jesus would do and how He would do it? I think that if I asked that question of all my friends I would get a lot of He would forgive, help others, live by a honest and moral code.
But isn’t that what each of us, for the most part anyway, do every single day?
However when you think back on Jesus’ life as we have read in the Bible, we remember that when Jesus was a child, he sneaked away from his parents to go to the temple, the same temple where he later wreaked havoc with tables.
There were times Jesus would speak to crowds and be among the people, there were also times He would go to be alone with His Father.
It seems confusing doesn’t it? The answer to what would Jesus do changed with the circumstances.
Remember though, He always knew what the right decision was because He listened to His Father. He was in constant contact and He sought out His Father’s advice.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

God promises that if we listen, we will hear His voice telling us the way. Listen for it, sometimes it is barely a whisper but other times it knocks you to your knees.

To me bracelets with WWJD tend to make our very real Father seem more of a mythical figure than the Great I AM. We do not have to wear the fancy little bracelets to know what it is Jesus would do in any given circumstance. We have the same communication opportunity that Jesus did when He walked our earth.
So what would Jesus do? He would take every opportunity to seek His Father. He sought wisdom, guidance, strength and knowledge. Then He listened to the voice behind Him saying, this is the way, walk in it.

Dottie
………………………….and so I rided11eb61af3372158942077415c22fd12

The Perfect Job

The Perfect Job

Imagine interviewing for a job with a leader who hand-picked you and gave you a chance for who you are not in spite of who you are or worse who the community or your enemies say you are. This leader will give you great and valuable promises of your time with the company if you decide to take the job. This leader promises to always be available to you, no matter what and would never abandon you because he will look at you as part of his family. You potential leader promises you will become more and more secure in your position with this company because he will share all he has with you in a consistent and devoted manner. You are promised you can be absolutely certain that when you need wisdom you can ask and you will receive it because this leader makes sure you have a direct line of access to him. He guarantees the granddaddy of open door policies.

It is promised that you can be certain that when you make mistakes, understanding and compassion will be guaranteed and will not brought up again, as long as you recognize and humbly admit your misstep. This leader will constantly remind you that he is in this game with you, side by side, working toward the common goal.   He knows that you are no longer the person you were and he sees the new creation you will become.  Your leader vows uncompromising trust and will give you the honor of carrying on the company message. This is guaranteed because the leader promises to bestow you with the tools you need to do so. He knows that you can deliver the message with love and self-discipline because he will personally and powerfully teach you the right way. This one of a kind leader promises you will become as one with him and you and he will work side by side to obtain the company goals. He will help you to do whatever it is he is asking of you. You are promised the job is yours for eternity, there will be no lay-offs, or pay cuts. You are promised a solid and certain future once you accept the job.

Indeed, a dream job. A job with all the support, education and perks you could ever want.  A job that you cannot afford to pass up because it will change your life.

Replace the words your leader with God. This is what we are promised as heirs of Christ. This is (in part) who we are in Christ. I took these promises from the scripture list I posted yesterday just because I wanted to apply it to my life in a way that I could easily connect with. It makes me smile.

Dottie

……………………and so I ride

idendity-in-christ-sermon-series

The weather was so nice yesterday and staying inside just wasn’t an option. I asked a friend who is quickly becoming a good friend, if she wanted to ride somewhere for lunch. I love spending time with this lady because I am always edified, built up and she speaks God’s truth. We were backing our bikes out of tight parking spaces and she mentioned that a certain situation had made her feel overlooked and inconsequential but what got her through the situation was that she knew who she was in Christ and that was what really mattered. There was nothing I needed to hear at this moment more than this and as I took off for the 50 miles back to Gillette, I knew this was something I had to think and pray on.
The list is quite lengthy, we are God’s Child, justified, Christ’s friend, we belong to God, we are a member of Christ’s body, assured all things will work together for good, established, anointed and sealed by God, a citizen of heaven, holy and blameless, forgiven, a saint, salt and light of the earth. We are chosen by God and we have hope, are included and we are God’s workmanship. That is to name just a few of the most important facts we can ever know.
It is important that we realize who we are in Christ because if we do not realize the love God holds for us and just how deep and really unconditional that love really is, we cannot be filled with the fullness that God offers. We were purchased at a steep price, don’t let that price go to waste, use it to fight for what Satan will try to steal.
Be it health issues, work issues, family issues, or if others unleash unfaithfulness, untruths, manipulation, rebellion, illusions, deceitfulness or any other malady born of satan, remember who you are in Christ. It is the most significant fact of your life. Learn to see yourself as God sees you. God’s opinion is really the only one that counts. Your true identity is not what the world or current circumstances around you says you are, your true identity is who God says you are.
Know the truth, think the truth speak the truth, believe the truth. You are one of God’s CHOSEN people. Period, plain and simple. Claim this truth as yours and become who you already are. Thank you Tina Bennet for reminding me of this.
I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)
John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Loved and purified. 1 John 3:3

Established, anointed, and sealed by God. 2 Corinthians 1:21

God is always with me and never leaves me Hebrews. 13:5

God chose me to bear fruit John. 15:16
God is my Father, I am His child. John 1:12
I am a joint heir with Jesus, sharing His inheritance with Him. Romans 8:17
I am  one spirit with God. 1 Corinthians 6:17

God’s spirit and life live within me, I am God’s temple
I am a temple of God. His Spirit and his life lives in me. 1 Corinthians 6:19
A member of Christ’s body. 1 Corinthians 12:27• I am accepted. Ephesians 1:6
A Saint. Ephesians 1:1
Forgiven and Redeemed. Colossians 1:14
Complete in Jesus Christ, I am filled by my God who is ruler over every ruler and authority . Colossians 2:10
I am free from condemnation. Romans 8:1
The old has gone and the new has come because I am a new creation in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17

When needing wisdom I can ask for it and He will give me what I need. James 1:5
Chosen of God, holy and dearly loved. Colossians 3:12

God gave me a spirit of power, or love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
God’s fellow co-worker. 2 Corinthians 6:1
Seated in heavenly places with Christ. Eph 2:6

Jesus’ friend. John 15:14
We have direct access to God Ephesians. 2:18
I am helping to build up Christ as a spiritual house, I am a living stone. 1 Peter 2:5

We have been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God  so that through them we can participate in divine nature and escape corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:4
God will help me to do what He desires me to do. Philippians 2:13

Dottie
……………………….and so I ride

Promises not explanations, it is a pretty familiar quote that is easier to say than live.

My Mom called me today and said Dad has been steadily going downhill and the last three days the change in him has been startling. It makes me want to ask God why. I suppose it must be the same for anyone facing hard times of any sort. I like to have answers to things that I do not understand, I want explanations, I tend to demand answers for why this is happening to us or our loved ones.

 

I wonder what we would do if He did give us explanations for what He does? Would the answers really help us? His ways are not known to us and even knowing the answer might not help us to see the big picture.

Do we remember in the painful times that when we hurt, God hurts as well? When I am asking “Why God, aren’t I really just seeking satisfaction for my doubts, am I showing a lack of trust? Maybe I am trying to live by explanations and not trusting the promises?

 

Maybe I am asking the wrong question, instead of Why God, maybe I should be asking God to help me trust Him, for it is true that no one can do for me what He can. I think that during times like we are going through with my Dad, it is pretty easy to be distracted and that is exactly what we need to do everything in our power to prevent.

We are promised strength and His hand to uphold us, but it is easy to be distracted when the going gets tough. It is easy to let discouragement and fear divert our attention from the promise God gives us of renewing our strength.

 

I love Isaiah 40:31, so much so that I have a tattoo of it so I will never forget God’s promise to me.

Isaiah 40:31

“but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.”

 

The thought that God will not only help me through this, He will see to it that I am given sufficient strength to do it. That is priceless, truly.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says it perfectly also:

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.[a]

 

I saw a quote that said “when the world says give up , hope whispers, Try it one more time.

 

I think that is wonderful advice.

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Dottie

 

……………………..and so I ride

 

The “Promise” A personal story.

This story is about a promise I made to myself some years ago, it is about an ending, a beginning and the journey through the middle that brought me to my destination.

We all have defining times in our lives and sometimes those occasions shape the rest of our lives. A season of change started for me when I decided to end a marriage of 32 years for very good reasons but no matter the reasons, divorce is divorce and is not easy any way you look at it.

I will never forget the day I made my “promise”; it is etched in my mind forever. My marriage of 32 years was over and it was time to forge ahead into the future, alone. Scary stuff.

I had married before I was out of high school so in effect I went from my Father’s house to my husband’s house. I had never been alone but I was now- and it was scary. I have to admit that I was not thinking of the wonderful changes and opportunities that God was going to make in my life,  or the fact that He was right there beside me, my thoughts were more along the line of, oh my gosh, what is going to happen to me now.

It was a future that as of that moment was a blank slate. I could have looked at it as a black hole and I could have stayed in the victim role indefinitely but I chose to see it as a future that I was finally free to make my own. I had a plan but I wasn’t sure how to implement it. I wasn’t thinking to clearly yet.

I was leaving the past that wasn’t all bad in some aspects, I got my boys out of the deal and they sustained me, and to this day have brought me endless delight and pride, but I was gaining a solitary future that in all honesty terrified and excited me all at the same time. I read all I could about divorce and how to cope and even how to make it a positive experience. The thing is however, the ingredient that was lacking was the knowledge of where the provision for the power to accomplish that would come from. Oh I knew God was there but in the pain and chaos of a divorce, He sometimes seems distant.

Divorce was a scary and uncomfortable place to be, one day you are fine and feeling like you are on the right track, the next day the train derails. However I knew I didn’t want to miss what lay in store as I moved into my future. I had to find a way to take the choice that I made in deciding to divorce, and move it out of the spotlight, I had to try to gain some perspective. I prayed and prayed for something to give me a purpose and a goal to work towards as I walked through this difficult time and I prayed for God to make Himself present, you know the neon billboard thing again. .

So despite the uncertainty, apprehension and stress that filled my days, God was helping me to find a goal that would make me feel worthwhile, to make my future feel more secure and at the same time, fill my days with a purpose to go on. I am not saying I needed more than God, what I am saying is that I needed help in finding that out.

With God at my side I made a “promise” to myself and I asked God to help me achieve it. I vowed to do everything in my power to achieve my “promise” and when my power ran low, I knew God would be right there to recharge me.

It took me about another year and a half to start working on my “promise”, because I would be lying if I said that the time around a divorce is an easy time, no matter who wants the divorce it is a horrendous experience. It was horrible some days, barely manageable some days and some days it was all I could do to get out of bed and keep going. But God uses the most mundane things to give us the get up and go we need to …….well…….get up and go.

Taking responsibility for myself was a whole new experience for me but in tiny measures  and one step at a time, I found my footing, my “promise” and the ever growing knowledge that God was beside me.  He gave me the incentive to do what I had promised. Suddenly (or not) as the tiny measures accumulated, I realized the value of self-worth and just who this daughter of the King was, I was awakening to the possibilities that lay ahead for me.

It was amazing actually, striving to keep a promise that I had made to myself, that seems such an ordinary promise, millions of people do it, but for me, it was a step into yet another unknown direction and a journey I had to take one step at a time because it was that scary.  More steps than I care to admit were in the backward direction. However, soon my “promise” became more than just a “promise” it became a matter of integrity, a measure of trust and reliability, a bull headed determination, a heartfelt feeling of respect for what I was doing and more than a little gratitude for the fact that God was on this mission with me and showing me how to accomplish it.  This in turn, added to my feelings of self-worth and my love and respect for my Father God grew. It was all part of the growing into the person God knew I could be. So I grabbed ahold of God’s hand and I marched on to fulfill my “promise”.

It was around that time that I met my husband Earl, I am positive that God brought him into my life for many reasons but a big reason I believe had to do with the promise I made to myself. He gave me the love, support and motivation that I needed to stay the course I had set for myself. If I do say so, he and God made a pretty dynamic team.

Never, ever get comfortable and think things are going to go smooth and you have clear sailing the rest of the way. My Dad was diagnosed shortly after that with Alzheimer’s and so began another scary, heartbreaking and soul wrenching experience I have ever endured.

Yet somehow the “promise” had taken on new meaning and now it wasn’t just a “promise” to myself, it was something I had to do , because life is too short to let dreams die.

Some things we have to let go and watch them blossom and grow, some things we have to let go and watch them take up residence with God and some things shouldn’t be left to wither and die. So it was with my “promise” So I took the cowboy spirit my Dad instilled in me, I took the support of my husband and I took the power of God, and I marched myself back to the road that led to my “promise”

As always there are lessons, of course there are, did you think there wouldn’t be?

I learned a few things on the way to fulfilling my “promise”,

  •  I had to do the work to see the results. And by work I mean physically, mentally and on my knees.  Just a note, I have gotten up at 3 am every morning to achieve this “promise”. Being alone wasn’t easy , watching my Dad wither away wasn’t easy and there were many things that threatened to distract me and threatened to derail my plans. Trying to work a “promise” into the equation of loneliness, fear, no money, frustration and stress felt downright crazy at times and certainly not something I could embark on alone. Many times the inclination was to quit and take the easy way out. It seemed easier at times to just stop struggling, but God kept reminding me of my “promise “and He kept gently nudging me forward.
  • When you see results, it makes you stronger. Success begets success, truly it does. As the tiny successes rolled in, my confidence grew and my determination found wings. God has a funny way of taking the tiniest of motivations and turning them into the courage to forge ahead.
  • Everyone has the right to their own destiny (the one God gives to each and every one of us). You hear something often enough and you start to believe it (both good and bad). Once the fog cleared however, God wouldn’t let me dwell there,  it became apparent that God deemed me worthy of having my own hopes, and dreams and the biggest surprise; He knew I had it in me (as long as He was in the lead) to meet the challenge.
  • The biggest lie is the lie of your imperfection. Don’t listen to anyone but the one who created you. None speak the truth quite like the One who loves unconditionally and creates you in His perfect image.
  • God never abandons us. Walk on, even if you don’t see, feel or hear Him. I guarantee He is still there. He might just be encouraging you to find the courage to plug into the power that exemplifies who He is, He might be giving you the courage to abandon your fear and He might be giving you the faith that it takes to put your hand in His and walk into the unknown. Take a chance, go with Him.
  • Your thoughts can become your reality, be careful where your thoughts rest. Keep your eyes upward, any other focus is a recipe for disaster.
  • Problems are not necessarily bad; it is an amazing feeling when you come through the other side of a problem you have solved with the guiding power of our Father. There is a powerful reminder in those situations that God doesn’t simply give power, God IS THE POWER, plug into His power.
  • To make my “promise” a reality I had to move in that direction consistently and purposely and with a steady determination.  I learned that to be a doer and not simply a talker was as simple as believing in my dream and believing that God was true to His word. Simple does not necessarily equal easy but in this case, it meant moving in a straightforward direction, it meant following where God was leading.

Sometimes I felt like the first pioneers must have felt, I faced criticism not because what I was doing was wrong but because what I was doing was “different at my age…………………excuse me!”  I dared to dream, and I found the courage by walking with God into what appeared a stark and barren future, but I walked smack dab into a place where He helped me nurture and grow that dream into reality. He walked me smack dab into a daughter of faith.

Today is a historic day in Dottie Rankin reality, today is the day my “promise “became a reality.

Today I graduated with my Masters Degree in Education.

Thank You God for making my dream come true.

Dottie

……………..and so I ride

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