Avoiding Regrets

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     My greatest regret in life is not spending time with God daily in prayer and reading my Bible. I think about the unnecessary trauma I have gone through over the years simply because I  wasn’t listening to God (you know, spending time with Him by reading and meditating on His word)!  

     Now that I am retired and spending that time daily with God, I am realizing the HUGE EFFECT it is making in my thoughts, attitudes, and actions. I think about all those years I failed in allowing God to show me the path I should have taken. I could have avoided so much pain, so many mistakes, pitfalls, detours, etc., if I had been familiarizing myself daily with what God had to say about what I was going through. 

     I could have you know. But I allowed myself to be manipulated and deceived into allowing busyness to keep me out of God’s word. Sure my life was busy when I was raising four children, working full time, and being deeply involved with my church. But I paid the price for putting all of that before my personal time with God. Not only did I pay the price but those I loved paid the price as well.

Remember:

The more we pray and the more we study, the more of Christ is revealed to us. Our faith is strengthened and our access to the power of God is increased. Our ability to recognize fiery darts becomes keener, and we do not succumb to their influences so readily. We will recognize the battle going on between our flesh and our spirit and we will choose to cooperate with God’s plan instead. p 80 FD’s 3rd ed 

     So please, please heed my warning. You are not doomed to repeating my mistake. Know that the enemy is whispering the same lies into your thoughts as he did to mine. Be aware only the power of God’s word can successfully expose Satan’s lies.

     So go get your Bible. Open it up and start reading it everyday. (I recommend a read your Bible through in a year plan.) I can’t tell you how many times God will highlight a verse for me in my daily readings that speaks directly to something I’m dealing with. I add that verse to my prayer notebook (oh yeah, keeping up with verses like that helps keep them in your focus).

Start NOW letting God’s Truth’s rule your thinking and not Satan’s lies.

You will never regret it!

 

The significance of Thanksgiving!

 

   720936f75ec4eef1793ec0a2f3345d33     wyndham 7-17 all 20  retreat friends   th-10

 

 

  Obviously, the significance of Thanksgiving is that it is a time to pause and contemplate all the things we have to be thankful for. 

   Some broad categories for which I am thankful are Faith, Family, Friends, and Country, just like many of you, I imagine. But in this post, I will zero in on a significant aspect within the category of Faith whose impact carried over into Family, Friends, and Country.

   It was about 9 years ago, when God first introduced me to the concept of fiery darts.  That instruction opened my understanding of how I had been victimized by my own thoughts. Negative thoughts or what I eventually began to see as fiery darts. I shudder to think the course my life would have taken, had I not been awakened to the destructive force of fiery dart thinking.

   As my training proceeded, I began learning how I had been deceived by my old nature (my thoughts and attitudes prior to my becoming a Christian), and the world’s concept of truth (a truth void of God’s Truth). I discovered that the world’s concepts of truth held more sway over my thinking than God’s concept of Truth.

   That deception was advanced by my lack of spending time with God in His word. Notice, I didn’t mention that I did not spend time with God in prayer! Because I spent a lot of time praying. But you know what that amounted to? I spent a lot more time talking to God rather than listening to Him. For we hear God’s voice when we read the Bible. 

   When my talking to God and my listening to God got in balance, then and only then, did I find my way out of the bondage I had placed myself in with fiery dart thinking.

   This balance impacted how I dealt with problems within the context of family  and friend relationships. It encouraged me to take those problems to God. Faithfully He would lead me to a particular scripture or scriptures that would shed light on how I should respond. 

   There hasn’t been an area in my life that this balance hasn’t impacted. For example, instead of despairing over the negativity of our recent political climate, God reminds me of 2 Chronicles 7:14. My prayers for my country are worded according to God’s Word, not my despair.  

   When disaster strikes our nation, I’m reminded of verses such as John 16:33. My prayers are worded with the hope found there, not my fears. 

   Knowing how to counterattack the temptation to think negatively about our problems, presents us with a perspective that will identify solutions. 

   My expressions of thankfulness this holiday will be centered on the gratefulness I feel towards God for opening my understanding to what fiery darts are and how to defeat them. For that knowledge has enhanced the gratefulness I feel towards

my Faith, my Family, my Friends, and my Country. 

Who do we believe?

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Why do we so easily believe the lies of fiery darts? But struggle to believe Truths from God’s Word?

   If the darkness of the world, Satan, and our flesh influences our thinking more than God’s Word, then our thoughts, attitudes, and actions will reflect that darkness.  Thus our focus will be on the darkness, blinding us to the light of God’s truth that lies beyond it. 

  Yet, if we desire to believe God over the lies of the enemy, we must do the following:  

We must seek God.

When God speaks we need to listen.

When God speaks we need to believe.

When God speaks we need to act on His words.

Take to heart the following:

…when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. Is 43:2 ESV

The LORD is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you. Do not be afraid or discourages. Deut. 31:8

Don’t be afraid anymore, only believe. Mark 5:36 NASV

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

   Yet sometimes the problems we face threaten to overwhelm us. We believe God,. We believe His Word. We go to it daily.  We talk to God about it a lot, but the hoped for solution evades us! What do we do in situations like that?

We wait!

   As we wait, we continue to pray and search the Scriptures. We focus on verses like the ones above. We become alert to the encouragement God sends us as we go about our day. Through those encouragements and God’s word, we grow in our faith and perspective of the problem.

   We learn to recognize the fiery darts and how to reject them. We learn to replace them with the Truth thoughts from Scripture that God directs us to.

   We may not feel so good about the way things are going, but we must remember that if God says He will never leave us, that He will not fail us, then in spite of how things look, we must take Him at His word. 

Our well being depends on who we believe!

 

God’s Will? or not! Sometimes you just have to get up and move!

 

Be Aware! The fiery darts are really tricky when it comes to discerning God’s will. For example:

 

Feel confused, troubled, or things just won’t clear up? 

Remember:  

1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not the author of confusion. (If confusion remains, then hold off on that decision.)

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Being rushed to make a decision but  we don’t feel ready?

Remember:

Psalm 37: 7a, Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him… 

(Be careful here. Sometimes we make a decision then ask God to bless it. Get the direction clear in your head first. A fiery dart will always push us to get the cart before the horse.)

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Feel we should take a step of faith, but we are too afraid?

Remember:

2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us the spirit of fear

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Feel we should take a step of faith, but we are bombarded with doubt?

Remember:

Mark 9:23, Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

 

   When we face of time of decision consider this. If we have not been consistently and I mean daily spending time with God in prayer and His Word, then it’s going to be a bit harder. And it will take some time. Too many aren’t willing to give God that time. Satan takes advantage of that. Confusion, fear, doubt, are the tools of his trade. If there hasn’t been a daily going back and forth between us and God, then whatever has caused that needs to be faced and discarded. Then considered the decision.

Me & my new jeep

Oh! Be careful about over spiritualizing the situation. I use to be really bad about that. For instance,

   I was traveling all by myself for the first time to go visit my son. At the time he lived an 8 hour’s drive away. I don’t like traveling alone. But I strongly desired to go and see my son and nothing else had worked out. It was either, go by myself or stay home. 

   I thought, “If I’m just stepping out in my own will, then I won’t have God’s protection!” (Oh that’s a paralyzer!) I shared that with my son and this was something like his reply.

“Mom, do you want to come for a visit? 

To which I replied, “Of course, I feel very strongly about that.”

“Then get yourself in that car and come on!” was his pert reply.

   I had prayed and prayed and prayed some more about traveling to go see my son. (and he knew that)  My traveling alone was the only thing that had worked out. There was nothing left for me to do but get myself in that car and head out. God had opened the door, but the fiery darts of fear and doubt were paralyzing me. Sometimes, you just have to get up and move!

 

 

 

Suffering can make us stronger OR it can weaken us. We choose!

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John 16:33, I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.

    When God created our world, everything was perfect and in balance. This was His plan for us. He wanted so much for us to enjoy His gift of creation.

     However, Satan with his evil ways entered the picture and enticed Adam and Eve to sin.  Suffering was an unavoidable consequence of Satan’s intrusion.

So where did that leave us?

     Because of God’s great love for mankind, He came up with a plan to redeem us. He introduced His plan in the Old Testament with the promised Messiah. It was fulfilled in the New Testament by Jesus.

     Man’s sin, set in motion Satan’s evil plans to destroy mankind. Satan stays busy manipulating those unaware of his plan with the lies of fiery darts. Fiery darts originating with our flesh. That is man’s will not controlled by the Truths of God’s Word. Fiery darts expounded by the worldview of a society apart from God. Fiery darts introduced into our minds by Satan.

     These sources will attempt to convince us that suffering is to be avoided. When it happens we try to escape it. In doing so we deny ourselves the very thing that will strengthen our ability to live life more victoriously.

Therefore, suffering is meant to equip our faith to endure the trials of life in order to mature us! By desiring that God remove our suffering, we shut ourselves off from the opportunity to learn how to become more like Christ and to be a testimony to others who are suffering. p. 58 FD’s 3rdedition

     Souls nourished by the Truths of Scripture understand that suffering is a fact of life. It cannot be avoided. As we learn through our suffering, we are less likely to be overwhelmed by it. Instead we build a testimony of how to overcome suffering. A testimony that will comfort others with the comfort God gave us. 

He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

Positive power vs negative power

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Positive thinking has positive power. Negative thinking has negative power!

     I bet you knew that! “That’s just logical,” you might say. But there’s a vast difference between knowing about this power and feeling the impact of such power.  

     I know all too well the effect of negative thinking. I wrote a book, entitled: Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice, based on  my first hand experience of this destructive force. Regretfully, it took me many years before my eyes were opened.   Thankfully, I didn’t live my whole life ignorant of the enemy’s power. 

Positive power at work

     Recently, while in a low mood (prime time to get attacked by fiery darts) my mind strayed to the recent departure of two of my children. Both lived relatively close to me. And with a son living in Africa, their closeness was a constant source of comfort. Then a few months ago, two of my three daughters, moved in opposite directions about 11 hours away. The negative power of sadness began to claim my thoughts. 

     Yet, in these moments, the following thoughts began rising to the surface: “During the times your children and grandchildren lived nearby you made a ton of wonderful memories. Why don’t you focus on those instead? Start thanking God for those memories.” So I did. As I filled my mind with one blessed memory after another, the negative power fueled by negative thoughts diminished. The more I praised God for those sweet memories, the better I felt. 

     But not one to give up easily, Satan sent me another fiery dart. My thoughts were redirected towards another situation in my life that has the potential to create burdensome thoughts. On the tails of my recent reminder, I was prompted to find the good that came out of that burdensome situation. A bit harder perhaps, (Satan’s is clever like that) because the burden is something I continue to wrestle with. Yet, the good is there! Once again, the negative was drained away and the positive began to soothe me.

     As a Christian, I live by the God’s Truth and not the lies of fiery darts. My mind is being renewed every time I spend time with God in prayer and His Word (the Bible). 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 NIV

     So, think about it. A mind not experiencing renewal by God’s Truth, is a mind subject to negative power. The negative power of Satan’s lies and manipulation. A decision to take to heart John 3:16, allows us the resources to expose Satan’s negative power. A power that is no match for the positive power of God’s Truth. 

 

Is more of Jesus enough?

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   It’s the ultimate frustration when you pray and pray over something, but the hoped for answer doesn’t come. The fiery darts will try and convince you that God isn’t paying attention. That He doesn’t really work in the way you desire. It may happen for other people, but not for you. Or you are praying the wrong way, or asking for the wrong thing. Or it’s just not His will. (To name only a few!)

   When the answers don’t come and you are tempted to despair;  when happiness is something you experience only infrequently; when your joy thermometer reads zero; ask yourself, “What is my focus?”

   Remember it’s about perspective. If your days are covered in a dark cloud, the right perspective can change how you perceive that cloud. The dark cloud may remain, but you will see it differently.

   That dark cloud can become a reminder to praise God and to thank Him that He is allowing the darkness to draw you closer to Himself.  This simple but profound realization changes everything. All those fiery darts cannot hang around in the face of such a Truth.

   It’s in times like these, we have to be content in the knowledge that even when we don’t receive the hoped for answers, we have been drawn closer to God. We can trust Him to give us the perspective that will help us move forward. Whether our prayers are answered to our satisfaction or not. 

   Yes, when our earnest prayer’s remain unanswered it’s difficult to trust and depend upon God. It’s easier just to throw up our hands and quit. But if we reject such fiery dart thinking, then we will be open to receive God’s Truths.  He may give us a verse of Scripture like Habakkuk 3:17-19, or comfort from a friend, or insight from a sermon, or encouragement from a song! Centering our thoughts on these Truths whenever we are tempted to despair will restore our hope and give us peace.  (Even if our prayers remain unanswered)

   Satan doesn’t want this to work, so be prepared for the negative distractions to increase. Stand strong and reject such negative thoughts. Resolve to receive only those Truth thoughts sent by God. 

  When our child cries out to us because they have suffered a great disappointment, we just wrap our arms around them and love on them. Our presence is their greatest comfort and for them, that is enough.

  The same is true for us as God’s children. Our Heavenly Father, desires to be enough. His presence must mean more to us than getting the answers we want, when we want them.