Tag Archive | fiery darts

Guarding our Graduates…

Graduating from high school is a monumental experience. The whole idea of venturing into the unknown is akin to a StarTrek quest. Yet, our graduates are thrust into this unfamiliar environment whether they are ready for it or not.

When the world wasn’t so far removed from biblical morality, being thrust out into that world wasn’t as formidable as it is today. In the not so distant past a graduate would have time to adjust and come to terms with their faith as it applied to the requirement of standing on their own two feet. 

Not so today! Today’s graduates, as soon as they take their first step into the real world, can be carried away with the flow of philosophies and ideals that run contrary to Truth.  That is unless they have become grounded in what is Truth prior to their graduation.

Due to their age, graduates can’t be expected to enter into a world with all the wisdom that experience usually teaches them. Therefore, it is imperative that they have at the ready a source to call upon to guide them through the uncertainties, confusion, and temptations of this world. 

A mindset filtered by negativity is a byproduct of a mentality lacking the impact of godly truths. The negativity that clouds their minds blinds them to the good in their lives. Blessings, usually in abundance, are all but ignored due to this negative focus.

The wisdom of the Scriptures, enables graduates to be aware of the schemes of the evil one and how to thwart those schemes. From this source they will become wise and skilled to not only recognize the lies behind the temptations, reject the path those temptations lead to, but will supply the enabling power of God’s truth instead. 

Therefore, prayers offered on their behalf, need to contain the following:

That they would not conform to the patterns of this world.

That the blinders of negativity would be removed.

That they would learn to listen to the Holy Spirit

That they would cooperate with God as He enables them to recognize the difference between Satan’s plans and God’s plans.

That they would feed daily on the strengthening power of the truths of Scripture.

Additionally, Remember the 3 R’s of Fighting the Fiery Darts

Recognize the fiery darts

Reject the fiery darts

Replace the fiery darts

How to prepare for the unexpected?

How on earth do we prepare for something we didn’t even know was going to happen??????

There is a way!

But first we must identify who is in charge of the unexpected: Who do we turn to when our plans are completely upended? When our health turns against us? When suddenly we loose something or someone dear to us? When an accident completely changes the course of our lives? When for some unknown reason others turn against us? When an opportunity we were counting on doesn’t pan out? When the unexpected happens?

When the unexpected occurs, we walk about in a stunned state of bewilderment, reeling from the shock of the unexpected event. Life is no longer the same. We weren’t prepared for this. We don’t know what to do. We do not have the capacity within ourselves to move forward. Those close to us look on, seemingly unable to reach us at our point of need.

As the days pass, we become highly vulnerable to Satan’s attack team of the fiery darts of fear, doubt, confusion, and despair. If we have no prior knowledge as to how to extinguish these fiery darts or debilitating thoughts, they will be fired at us with unrelenting vigor by our enemy. Designed to entrap us in a net of manipulation and deceit.

Now is the time to acknowledge who is in charge of the unexpected!

Hopefully,we have learned that preparing for the unexpected requires the wisdom of someone who sees the bigger picture. Someone who is not surprised by the unexpected. Someone whose understanding far surpasses our own.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6, HCSB

Prayers like the following will remind us of God’s plan and purpose for us during an unexpected ordeal. And with this perspective, Satan’s plans to destroy and weaken us will be thwarted.

Lord, Thank You that what is happening in my life right now did not take You by surprise. You understand the bigger picture of what is going on and I trust You with Your plan and purposes for my life. Thank You that You are in absolute control and You are fully able to conform me to the image of Christ through this ordeal as I surrender it to You. Show me what You want me to learn through this and help me to remain teachable and sensitive to Your Holy Spirit. I thank You that You are with me, that You will never leave me, and that You are drawing me closer to You through this situation so I can experience a more intimate relationship with You. May You receive glory for how I respond to all that Your loving hand has allowed in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/women/4-ways-to-keep-it-together-when-your-life-is-falling-apart.html

Faith Must Grow!

Teach me to believe that all degrees of mercy arise from several degrees of prayer, that when faith is begun it is imperfect and must grow,… quote from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Is our faith growing?

I think the answers to the above questions can be revealed by the following comparison.

When a baby is born it’s expected that growth and development will follow. Let’s say the child starts off healthy and with a nourishing milk diet the expected growth and development ensues. Wonderful, we are off to an encouraging beginning. Yet soon the child needs to transition from milk to solid foods. If the transition isn’t made and the child remains on a milk diet, then healthy growth will be arrested.

That’s exactly the analogy that is made in the following Bible verses:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.Hebrews 5:12-14

Though, we have been born into God’s family, far too many of us are still on a spiritual milk diet.

Troubles happen and when they do, we find our milk diet insufficient to provide us with the strength and wisdom we need. So we default to whatever source is handy. At which point the enemy enters to begin his deception. As a result our ability to recognizes the enemy’s lies has been seriously compromised.

This is where seeds of deception take root. Our desire to spend time in prayer and God’s word slowly deteriorates. Not being familiar with God’s truth, we filter out thoughts, attitudes, and actions through false assumptions and human reasoning.

Daily spending time in God’s word and prayer is the same as eating a healthy diet for those who desire to be healthy spiritually. But our enemy has convinced us that isn’t required and we can get along just fine without that consistent discipline. Remaining in the milk stage of our growth for too long, we can easily be convinced of such lies (fiery darts, remember).

After we have lived a hit and miss life for so long, we can’t see that there is a better way to live life. Because our growth has been stunted, we are unaware of our desperate condition. We aren’t even aware that a better life exists. A growing faith equals a better life.

Filters and fiery darts

What do filters have to do with fiery darts? Well, recently it has come to my attention that there is a distinct relationship between the use of filters regarding fiery darts. How we process the thoughts that are formed in our minds before they take the form of the spoken word relies on what we use to filter those words. Likewise, how we process those spoken words relies on what we use to filter those words as we ponder how to receive them.

How we use our words or how we receive words depends on the filters through which they pass. As it applies to this post, a filter is what we use to recognize fiery darts so that we can reject them and replace them with truth thoughts.

Allow me to illustrate

Negative teasing when passed through the filter, ‘I don’t really mean that, I’m just teasing,’ justifies the tearing down of another. However, when using the filter of Scripture we are instructed to make sure that what comes out of our mouths should build up our listener/s in that particular situation. Therefore, our words should benefit those who are listening.

Let no corrupting talk (some translations use course jesting) come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 ESV

Take another example.

I’m 73 years old and the other day a loved one said to me, “Janet, you are beginning to look your age.” Their filter allowed them to express the first thought that came to their mind in expressing their concern for the stress I was under. However, if they had been familiar with the following verse (filter) they would have reconsidered that initial thought. Seasoning it with graciousness. (“Did I look that bad!”)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 ESV

Ever heard of the word, hijacking

as it applies to conversations? Someone is talking and what they says sparks a memory. We can hardly wait for them to pause so we can interject our thought. Sometimes we don’t even wait for a pause, we just blurt it out. That’s hijacking a conversation. What’s happening here is we are not really listening to the other person. We are not thinking about what they are saying. Scripture has a very effective filter for this problem (that often we aren’t even aware we are guilty of it).

“With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves…” Philippians 2:3

Additionally, James 1:9a, ‘be quick to hear, slow to speak…‘ exhorts us to focus on what the speaker is saying and give them our full attention.

The Scriptures are designed to filter our words, thoughts, and actions. Just the ammunition needed to extinguish fiery darts!

Honoring as we Care…

You tolerate what you must when it becomes your reality. C S Lewis

The dramatic shift in the course of my life (October 24 post?) has brought to the forefront of my thoughts the above statement. As it settled there, the profoundness of Mr. Lewis’s quote sank deep. While my new reality isn’t something I’m excited about it’s encouraging to know that I will be able to tolerate it. Not only will I be able to tolerate what has become my reality, but according to God my life and the lives of my family will be enriched.

Yet even for those of us who have chosen God’s mandate, the actual doing of it is difficult and at best, challenging. We need God’s help in order to honor those who become the recipients of our concern. Having to care for elderly parents, especially within our home, has a huge impact on the family dynamics. Therefore, we must be on our guard for the fiery darts that will be sure to come against us. Fiery darts that are designed to view our caretaking of our elderly parents as a burden prevent us from responding with love, patience, and understanding as we seek to meet their needs

No one desires to be a burden to their adult children, least of all me. But how my future unfolds on this subject, must be surrendered to God. In the meantime, my children and grandchildren are learning valuable lessons in the shaping of their attitudes as they watch and help us care for their grandmothers/great grandmothers. Valuable lessons such as learning to appreciate the elderly as they share their wisdom gleaned through years of highs and lows. The love they are so willing to shower upon their children and grandchildren produces blooms of respect and admiration.

Make no mistake, it’s no picnic taking on the responsibility of someone who like many elderly parents have health and even mental issues. It requires a huge dose of selflessness, strength, and faith. If we seek these from God, then our reality indeed becomes tolerable, teaching us how to honor as we care.

What does it feel like to be a double decker sandwich?

Not so good actually! Blocked in on both sides. Feeling bad about this situation makes you feel bad about yourself. Most days are dark. Most people don’t understand how you feel. Feel taken advantage of! God is the ONLY thing that offers light or hope. And much of that light or hope comes from faithful children.

Caring for an elderly mother and recently an elderly mother in law defines my double decker image. Not a place I ever expected to be but here I am. It’s a day by day of putting one foot in front of the other, or stumbling over my own feet.

Then there are those from whom I need the most help, seem to be clueless as to what that should look like. Thank you’s are meaningless, when really what I need is some empathetic act that will lessen the load, relieve the pressure, or cheer me up. You know like repairing something that’s been broken for way too long. Or completing a task that has been all but forgotten. Oh, and I’m going to be blunt here, doing something nice for me just because they know I like it so much (though they don’t)! Sigh……

While I certainly feel tested during this time (the demands are overwhelming), my grade hovers around a ‘C’ sometimes but a ‘D’ most often. At least, that’s my take on it. Yet Romans 8:1 contradicts those fiery darts of condemnation I am so swift to embrace right now.

I’ll just hang on, though I’m making no great strides. Just can’t muster the strength to handle this like I know I should or like others think I should. So, I’ll just keep getting up in the morning and go through the motions of what is expected of me. God continues to whisper to me that all this will work together for my good.

Well, the only sure thing in all this is God’s truths that apply to my situation. And though the light is dim, I will continue to walk toward that light. Eventually………

Dispelling dark clouds!

For the Lord your God is the One who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. Deuteronomy 20:4

Somedays it seems I just can’t shake this dark cloud that seems to follow me every where I go. Keeping me in the shadows where the warmth and comfort of the Son is diminished. These times occur more often than not when I am alone. When I do not have the helpful and healing distraction of the presence of friends and/or family. Even during my quiet times while enjoying the rural scene and accompanying melodies of the birds from my front porch, the dark cloud can intrude. Casting its shadow over my time alone with God.

The words that clamor for dominance take the advantage as the cloud hovers. And when I take a look at 2020/21 and the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, along with chaos within our own nation, the suffering in Afghanistan, and my personal failings, I grow weak under the weight of it all. How does one find joy and peace in the midst of such a dark cloud of suffering?

Then yesterday during my quiet time the above verse caught my attention. And today, as I was listening to a podcast that very same verse was highlighted. I’ve been a Christian long enough to recognize when the LORD desires to get my attention. So I began focusing on that verse.

I came to realize the dark cloud was a tool of the enemy. Manipulating my thoughts by having me dwell on the realities of suffering all around me. In that verse, God reminded me that I wasn’t fighting this tool of the enemy on my own. God was fighting with me for me to give me victory over the fiery darts of the enemy (dwelling on the suffering). When I grasp the vision that God is in this battle with me, then His victory becomes my victory! The dark cloud is dispelled!

Goldfinches: God’s little messengers!

                                                                                                       

For two years I have actively tried to attract Goldfinches to my yard.    I hung thistle socks and  even dressed up a thistle feeder with a yellow ribbon. My desire to attract these yellow charmers was fueled by the fact that they frequented my sister in law neighbor’s yard regularly. I concluded, if they gathered in her yard, why not mine? 

Last year was a bumpy road. Potholes of problems were a constant contention. While the end of the year revealed the removal of one major issue, others stubbornly remained. Thankfully, the removal of that major issue gave me some breathing space. Though difficulties remained, God was true to His promise in Isaiah 43:2 that they would not overwhelm me. 

I recall a time early in this present year, when discouragement threatened me at every turn. Negative thoughts, aka fiery darts, tore away at my resolve to allow God’s word to direct me. 

Just as soon as my path led me to a clarifying high point, it would be followed by a dip into dismay. I grew weary of this up and down existence. Yet, the truths of God’s word sustained me and kept me on track.

Often, I would plead with God to intervene and guide me along straighter paths. The fiery dart of doubt invaded my thoughts repeatedly. The highs and the lows were too close together and my peace was dwindling. 

It was during such a time that I sought God in prayer to affirm that He was listening. He gave me Psalm 66:19-20, “However, God has listened; He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer. May God be praised! He has not turned away my prayer or turned His faithful love from me.”

In my desperation to stay on track and follow God’s lead, I made a particular request. I asked God to direct the Goldfinches to my yard. Nevertheless, I was prepared to believe God was listening whether the Goldfinches showed up or not.  

6/21/20 first sighting

It was while I was sitting in my kitchen talking to my daughters, that one of my grandchildren exploded into the room shouting, “Nammy! There’s a Goldfinch on your feeder!”

Running to look, I asked, “Are you sure?” 

And sure enough, hanging on the thistle sock in the crepe myrtle bush positioned by the deck, was a bright yellow male Goldfinch. Tears spilled down my face. God’s little messengers had accomplished their mission! And the bonus is that since that first sighting, daily appearances of God’s little messengers continues to assure me.

7/4/20 Now they even feast on sunflower seeds!

Undeserved Gifts

 

I would like to give my readers a break today. Let’s focus on something other than the out of control violence running rampant in our land. After you read this, those concerns will still be there.  But may this respite of a read introduce some calmness into those concerns.

      I get to live on a farm! I’m 71 years old (next month I’ll turn 72 but that’s irrelevant). Sometimes, I feel guilty about getting to live here. Why?  Because I don’t contribute to the maintenance of the farm. But my daddy (Daddy has 4 children, 3 of us live here on the farm. We still, even in our 70’s and 80’s, refer to this man as Daddy. It’s our farm culture. The way we speak.)

     But I digress. I live here because it is a gift from my daddy. I didn’t do anything to deserve this acre of land I live on, other than being a child of my father’s.

     Wow, does that remind me of something! Isn’t that the way of things in the spiritual world, too? Let’s examine the parallels. As Christians, we are born into God’s kingdom. That spiritual birth entitles us to the abundant life and eternal life that Jesus died for. It’s our birthright as God’s children. We did nothing to deserve this life. It is ours due to our spiritual birth into God’s family and Christ’s sacrifice.  

     My life here on the family farm was ultimately provided by my Heavenly Father. It was about 26 years ago, that my family of 6 moved onto the homeplace. This was made possible by a gift from my earthly father.

     Stepping out onto my front porch while enjoying the welcomed coolness of a late spring morning, I heard the revving of the mower’s engine, signaling the first hay cutting of the season.  I won’t go into all the beautiful details of why this is one of my favorite pleasures of living in the corner of a big ole hayfield. Yet my reverie of thoughts was waylaid with the intrusion of thoughts of guilt. I was reminded (and we all know the source) that while my brothers and nephews work hard for this farm, I can make no such claim. 

     Why, on earth, you may ask would I spoil this picture of drawing in the sweet fragrance of new-mown hay, as I watched the birds perched on electrical lines anticipating the goodies the mower uncovers for them? Well, it’s Satan’s way. Attacking us with negative thoughts, for the purpose of undermining the perspective God sacrificed to give us. 

     But I know something too. I don’t have to give into such thoughts. (I call them fiery darts) My perceptive daughter in law reminded me (not long ago) that I have what I have because of who I was born to. And when I take on that perspective then I am at peace about enjoying this undeserved gift. 

    So, Satan be forewarned. Every time you try to plant that fiery dart thought into my head, I will remind you that like the undeserved gift of my salvation, my home here is an undeserved gift as well. I choose to honor both my fathers with a thankful heart for the undeserved gifts that my birth permits me to enjoy. 

Spoiling our Perspective

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It’s all in how we look at it!

For example:

     My eyes watch as delicate snowflakes accomplish the task of blanketing the landscape outside my window. Winter birds flit and flutter around the birdfeeders grasping for the sunflower seeds, now that food is in short supply. A lone little squirrel scampers to and fro searching for hidden acorns. From within, the fireplace offers an accent of crackling burning wood. 

     Such a scene has the power to call forth a variety of emotions. Positive flavored emotions of peace, calmness, serenity, thankfulness, or a sense of well-being may settle upon us. On the other hand, such a scene can bring forth negative flavored emotions of unrest, sadness, loneliness, or a sense of despondency.

     If the recent circumstances of our days have been troubling, don’t be surprised if our emotions default to the negative. If that’s the case, it’s not an easy matter to suppress such emotions. Satan, remember, comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Therefore, he will design fiery darts meant to manipulate and deceive how we perceive our world.  

      But we have but to remember that our loving God has come to give us life more abundantly. Therefore, when fiery darts assail us we have but to call upon our shield of faith to extinguish all those fiery darts.

    Something our enemy doesn’t want us to realize is that we can choose to embrace a positive perspective or a negative one. Yep, we don’t have to be victimized by fiery darts. It may take a lot of meditation on God’s Truths to send Satan packing, but it can be done. We don’t have to allow him to spoil our perspective.