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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. 

Memories, thoughts, and weapons

Nammy's Camp 2018

   Recently I was thrilled to entertain 8 of my 10 grandchildren at what our family has termed, Nammy Camp. It’s a kid-driven camp. The grans provide the fun ideas. I plan the menus, and provide the venue. There is only one restriction–no electronics!! 

   Instead, my grandchildren spend time outside: swimming in my above ground pool, taking walks on trails in the woods, exploring, trying their hand at cooking, taking rides on a 4-wheeler, eating most of our meals outside on the picnic table, interacting with extended family members at a cookout, using their imaginations to build a brick fort, getting wet in a high spirited game of water balloons, learning a new game called ‘ladder ball toss’; playing chess, organizing a spa day for facials, manicures, and hair do’s; enjoying movie night with popcorn, rising early to watch a sunrise, and chasing fireflies at twilight! 

kathy & kids leaving 2018

   The time they were running around, laughing, and playing proved all too short. Fortunately, I didn’t have to say goodbye all at once. They left in 3 stages. Inevitably though, the final send off arrived. After waving goodbye from the front porch, as our last grandchildren drove off, I could sense the beginnings of a struggle. 

What struggle?

   The struggle to reject the fiery dart thoughts of overwhelming sadness!  For now my house was silent and empty.  I walked around the yard picking up pool toys and trash left behind by my campers. Storing lawn chairs and pool inflatables in the shed kept my mind from dwelling on the obvious. 

   As each moment passed, the temptation to give in to the sadness grew stronger. But before I could be overwhelmed, God offered me a two-fold weapon. One aspect of this weapon was to reject the sad thoughts so that they would not rule my thinking. Thoughts of this nature would influence negative attitudes and actions (p. 93, FD’s 3rd ed). The second aspect was to choose thoughts that would lift my spirits.

   Indeed, I had a hefty supply of memories from the previous days to draw upon. Truth thoughts from Scripture provided a rich source of strength and resolve. 

   As the hours passed, the force of the enemy’s attacks lessened. By filling my mind    with hopeful words from Scripture and happy memories, there was little room for the sad thoughts to plant themselves. By wielding God’s weapons, we can overcome the enemy when he attacks. 

  Remember, the enemy cannot defeat us, if we use the weapons of God’s design. 

 

Which Way Will We Choose?

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For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said:” You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence. But you are not willing.” Isaiah 30:15 HCSB

Choosing Our Way

   The last sentence of this verse is shocking! We all desire to be delivered from our trials. Quiet, confident strength sounds heavenly, doesn’t it! But like the people of Judah, we are often unwilling to listen to God’s way. 

   The temptation to seek our own resolutions is strong. Our flesh is naturally bent to go its own way. Perhaps it’s a control issue. 

  But if we listen to the fiery darts, and reject God’s way, who is doing the controlling? The truth is our choices have led to our bondage.  In actuality, we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated. And we are only fooling ourselves to think we are in control. 

   We seek deliverance, rest, and strength. But the whispering voice of the enemy purposes to convince us to reject God, His Word, His Way. Knowing deliverance, rest, and strength will continue to allude us!

  Our enemy’s fiery darts are powerful. We should never underestimate that. What we all desire can never, and I repeat never, be obtained by listening to Satan’s lies. No matter how cleverly they may be concealed. 

Choosing God’s Way

 

Therefore the LORD is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the LORD is a just God. All who wait patiently for Him are happy. Isaiah 30:18 HCSB

   Sadly, many of us will have to come to the end of our rope before we are willing to choose God’s way. And when that point in time happens and our sight is restored, we will see God standing there, waiting!

And what is He waiting to show us? Mercy and compassion. 

  Please don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t need God when making choices in this life. We don’t have to come to the end of our rope before we choose God’s ways. We only have to choose to believe His Word. 

God goes before us!

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There are times when our thoughts seem to become more anxious by the moment.

   Recently, anxious thoughts took center stage in my mind. They indeed appeared to multiply. The fiery darts of worry and fear joined forces with doubt and confusion. The problem loomed large. My ability to handle it grew smaller. I was close to feeling overwhelmed. I needed peace of mind.

Then God gave me a Truth thought that settled me down.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

As I meditated on this verse, I gained a new perspective on my problem.

God had gone on before me. You know out there where that problem was.

When I get to the point where I have to face the problem, I am not going to be by myself. God assures me He will be with me the whole way!

Fear and discouragement get left behind!

Now that’s what I call Consolation!

   I asked God for a physical sign that He would protect me and not allow me to be taken advantage of. Normally, I don’t ask God for a sign. But this time, I felt it was necessary, considering my weakness. He gave me that sign!

   So every time, the fiery darts of doubt, fear, discouragement, etc., attack, there’s my sign reminding me of God’s promises from Deuteronomy. That’s when the verse from Philippines 4:6-7 comes into play.

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. NIV

   Did you notice God’s peace (which I am sorely in need of) will guard my heart and mind, surpassing all those multiplying anxious thoughts!

   Now, I must focus on these verses whenever I’m tempted with anxious thoughts. If I take this approach, I will face the future, where my problem looms, with confidence in God. He has gone on before me, remember!

 

 

 

 

 

If we would only believe, GOD

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The question that came to my mind as I was reading the verse above was, “How would your attitude toward your problems change, if you really believed this?”

Would I worry so much about my future, if I really believed the LORD Himself was already there preparing a solution?

Would I be so susceptible to fear and discouragement, if I really believed God was with me constantly and had NO PLAN to forsake me?

   Of course, we would desire to have the kind of faith Deut. 31:8 makes reference to. So, why is it we succumb so easily to the fiery dart that this kind of faith is impossible for us? Why is it we believe Satan’s lies before we believe God’s Truths?

If Satan can deceive us into discounting the power of a fiery dart, and then add to that our unfamiliarity with God’s Word (caused by a lack of realization of its power), is it any wonder why we fall prey to fiery darts … p. 40 FD’s 3rd edition

   Satan doesn’t want us to believe God. Therefore, if we aren’t familiar enough with the Truth’s found in Scripture, then Satan’s trap is set. He will be able to manipulate us into believing the lies of fiery darts. We have a choice to make dear readers.

Are we going to believe Satan?

OR

Are we going to believe GOD?