Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Red Words in Scripture

These are the words of Jesus. In some Bibles they're shown in red to remind us that Christ is speaking. His words are amazing and trustworthy.

John 8:12 I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 9:5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

John 12:36 Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.

John 12:46 I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

John MacArthur says that light and darkness are symbols. “Intellectually light refers to biblical truth while darkness refers to error or wrong. Morally light refers to holiness or purity while darkness refers to sin or wrong-doing.” He also says darkness relates to Satan who rules our spiritually dark world. In contrast Jesus proclaims he is the light of the world. (John 9:5) Right after this he heals the physical sight of the blind man. (John 9:6-7).

These are awesome passages. What a vivid metaphor! – “I am the light of the world!” He does shed light on our world in so many ways and in him there is no darkness. And what a promise he gives – if we follow him we will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Is this true? Maybe sometimes we forget to see his light in our dark world. We need to remind ourselves that his Holy Spirit is in us and with us no matter what is going on. I’m sure the blind man believed Jesus was the light of the world after Jesus restored his sight. We must trust in Him and trust our prior experiences and learning about Him when the world or our life seems most dark and difficult. Cling to His words and walk in His light. Reject Satan and the darkness.

Dear Father, We thank you for the truth in this beautiful scripture. We thank you that we know Jesus is the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. And he is the WAY, the TRUTH and LIFE.
Help us cling to Him and to His words. Help us follow Him faithfully on a daily basis. Shine your LIGHT on our path, Lord. We thank you and praise you.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Q. I’m loaded with responsibility at work. I set aside several days for a family vacation every year but I can't forget the work I’ve left behind and enjoy travel with my family. My wife would like us to take longer vacations. She says I don’t know how to really relax and I guess she’s right. What can I do to enjoy family vacations and really relax during the time off?

A. Vacation should be a time to get away from the stresses and pressures of daily living; a time for rest, relaxation and retreat. Rest rejuvenates us physically. Relaxation helps us slow down our mental “wheel spinning” and gain calmness of mind. Retreat gives us time to go within our souls and discover who we are apart from our responsibilities and our roles. We need all three.

To accomplish your goal of having a relaxing vacation, do the following:
1. Allow extra time. Allow more time than you think you will need all along the way. If you rush your wife and children to get through each day’s activities, none of you will be relaxed.

2. Don’t try to accomplish too much in one day. Everyone will be more relaxed and enjoy the trip more if you only travel 350 miles a day or if you only plan one major activity a day rather then three.  Wasting time is one of the purposes of vacations. Expect to waste time. Relish this - if you can. 

3. Build enthusiasm and excitement into the trip. Listen to the needs and wishes of other family members as well as your own. Include everyone in the plans. When possible choose activities that everyone enjoys. 

4. Be flexible. Though it helps to have some plans in place, too much planning leaves no room for spontaneity. You may discover activities at your destination that you were unaware of previously. Or you may have a delay or change of plans for a variety of reasons. Cultivate a calm, relaxed attitude. You can do this knowing that the main purpose of this trip is to relax and enjoy yourselves.
5. Expect some frustrations. There will be rain, road construction, bee stings, sun burn, tearful children and so forth.  

6. Deal with difficulties in a positive way. Show love and respect to each member of your family especially in the middle of a conflict or crisis. 

7. Use the vacation to get to know your wife and children better. Be a good listener; be interested in what they have to say. Play games with the children, read to them. Do things with them you normally don’t have time to do.

8. Recognize the great value of family togetherness. Shared experiences provide memories that will last a life time. Children remember the times their families did things together. It strengthens your ties to each other.

9. Learn to relax every weekend and you will enjoy next year’s vacation even more. Time doing nothing is essential to good health. Even ten minutes a day will help. Time relaxing with family throughout the year is essential to a healthy family life.

“Anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:10

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Are You Running on Empty? Three Solutions for Stress

Rain splashes on the windshield as I drive home in a downpour. The gas gauge reads empty. My spiritual gauge also sits on empty. With fifteen more miles to go, I worry and stew, but keep going. Suddenly I remember, I ran out of gas in my teens and my Dad rescued me. “Lord, help me,” I whisper.
Lord, help me. What should I do?” Then I remember—cars today are different; they have a reserve tank good for twenty-five or thirty miles. My fear vanishes. “Thank you, Lord! “ Another thought comes! I’m a new model, also—a new creation; I have a reserve spiritual tank, a connection to God. He fills and refreshes me when my spirit sags.

As people of faith do you ever feel you’re running on empty? Do you ever feel overwhelmed or stressed? We all do at times. Life is busy, life is stressful, life distracts us from the most important things. We must remind ourselves of the solutions to our stress/emptiness/frustration and _____­­­­­­­­­­­­­ (you name it) problem. How do we fill our spiritual tank when it’s nearly empty? There are three solutions. Three words.

Prayer. Scripture. Worship. These are essential in the life of a Christian, in the life of a new creation in Christ. These three things will help us cope with most anything. These connect us with God. All three of these must be priorities and are intertwined with our corporate worship. Prayer, Scripture and Worship will fill our emptiness and recharge our spirits.

Worship as a body of believers is essential to our individual growth in Christ and to our unity as a church. Just showing up isn’t enough. As people of faith we influence our children, our relatives and our friends. We must lead the way in prioritizing corporate worship and in learning how to truly “be there” during it. There are several steps essential to grow us in Christ and to deepen our worship (and end our stress!).

Prepare for worship all week long. The pastor, choir and leaders prepare for worship and we must also. Prepare by praying for the pastor, choir, musicians, teachers and leaders throughout the week. Pray about your stress, frustration and worry also. Jesus’ prayer life shows his dependence on God. “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (emphasis added - Luke 5:15). If He needed to pray, certainly we do. When we pray we admit our powerlessness, humbling ourselves before God. We place our faith in him. We confess our sins daily. “Forgive us this day our sinful self-focus.” Prayers of confession and repentance free us.           

Paul tells us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This is a challenge! If we pray when we first wake up, pray before each meal and pray at bedtime we can come closer to fulfilling Paul’s admonition to pray continually. Prayer changes us, grows us. A daily time of prayer is essential to our Christian walk. God is with us. When we ignore him it’s similar to ignoring a good friend who is right in the room with us. God wants a close relationship – comparable to marriage. Would you think it was sufficient to talk to your husband only once a week?

Similarly we must read his Word on a daily basis. Read and meditate on His Word. Read a chapter a day at least. Plan when you will do this. Reading it together as a family will feed everyone. So try it at a meal. We recently started one chapter from Scripture at dinner every day.

Spend ten minutes a day in silence before God. Prayerful silence helps us let go of the distractions of life. Quiet your mind and turn your thoughts to God. Those who wait on the lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).

Adoration and praise are great stress relievers. Shoot prayers of praise and admiration daily throughout the day. Teach your children to do this also. Sing praises to his name! We often sing the Doxology at meals. Try it - it will lift your spirits.

When we do the above things daily we will come to church prepared to worship the Lord.  We are active worshipers, not passive ones. Then we will sing praises to his name. We will “give thanks to the lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes sing his praises. Tell everyone about his miracles. Exult in his holy name; O worshipers of the lord rejoice!” Psalm 105:1-3

When we truly worship Him on Sunday we prepare our hearts and minds for our daily stresses ahead. And we meet them with Prayer, Scripture and Worship. Keep the circle going!

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Misconceptions About Forgiveness

Forgiveness is essential in all relationships, especially our close relationships, because we inevitably hurt each other. We’re human, we make mistakes and we do wrong things. Many hurts are unintentional but they still hurt. Forgiveness isn’t easy and in many ways it is misunderstood.

Misconceptions about Forgiveness
1. The wrong doer often thinks the other person should just “get over it.” This is the goal, but forgiveness takes time; it is a process. Spending time talking together, listening to each other and even crying together can help with the process of forgiveness.
2. We think we must “feel” a certain way in order to forgive. Forgiveness is not a feeling or an emotion; it’s an act of the will. We may have to swallow our pride, but we can eventually choose to forgive.

3. We think we must “forgive and forget.” This is not true. It’s normal to forgive but still remember what happened. 
4. We think we’re blameless. Some times this is true, but often we have played a part in the problem. With some hurts we need to hold ourselves as well as the other person accountable. We may need to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

5. We think it’s good to forgive quickly. This is not always true. We can forgive too easily. Forgiving quickly may be a way to deny how deeply we were hurt. The injured person must face the depth of their own pain. We need to hold the person accountable when there has been a major injury in a primary relationship such as a betrayal of marriage vows. 
6. We think forgiveness means that what the person did was not wrong or didn’t hurt us. This is far from the truth. Forgiveness is simply letting go of the wish to get even. We choose to not hurt back. When we forgive someone we release them from the past. We stop looking in the rear view mirror. Instead we focus on the road ahead. 

7. We think forgiveness takes two people. This is not true. Forgiveness only takes one person. The injured person can let go of hurt and resentment and forgive the other person. Reconciliation, regaining trust, takes two people working on the relationship together.

Forgiveness is essential because resentment, bitterness or unforgiveness damage us emotionally, physically and spiritually. These affect all our relationships. Resentment is like a poison in our system, like radioactive waste that’s buried but seeping into our lives. When we have unforgiveness in our heart toward anyone we block loving feelings and close our hearts to others. Resentment also lowers our immune system and can contribute to a variety of physical illnesses. And it hurts us spiritually. The Bible commands us to forgive. We need to remember God has forgiven us. When we close our hearts to others we also close them to God. 

So remember:
Forgiveness is a process.
Forgiveness is an act of the will.
It’s OK to forgive and still remember the hurt.
You may not be blameless.
Forgiveness is letting go of wanting to get even.
Forgiveness only takes one person. Reconciliation takes two.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in God through Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32         

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Unity in Christ

 Years ago, as new believers, we attended an inspiring worship service at another church. We were surprised to see friends from all over town - brothers and sisters in Christ from other churches! (We know now that we have sisters and brothers in Christ all over the world.) We are one in Christ! Let this thought thrill you.                                                                                           
What is unity in Christ?
Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). The rock is Peter’s recognition that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. When the church is built on Him and his Word it will be a transforming unified church. No one can be a stay-at-home Christian. We need to worship with our church family to grow our faith. We need connections with other believers or the fire of the Spirit will burn out. We need community! There is spiritual power in unity in Christ.

Danger of Losing Your Spark 
Many churches today have lost their spark and their unity. In Revelation 1:20-3:1, John has a vision of Jesus among the seven golden lamp stands (churches). The church at Ephesus left its first love. The church at Pergamum accepted false doctrines. The church at Thyatira allowed immorality among them. The church at Sardis was dead. The church at Laodicea was lukewarm. Two churches showed unity in Christ. The church at Smyrna endured persecution. The church at Philadelphia kept His word, didn’t deny His name.

Which church are you a member of?        
Brothers and sisters, where are you among these churches? Have you left your first love or does your heart warm within you at the mention of His name? Have you accepted false doctrines, or are you holding to the Truth of his Word? Are you lukewarm or are you on fire for the Lord? Are you living in an immoral way or are you keeping the standards of purity and holiness He set for us? Is your faith dead? Are you just going through the motions?

Be like the church of Smyrna and Philadelphia
Turn to Jesus and repent. We need to examine our hearts daily, recognize our sin and seek his forgiveness. We need to seek Him with all our heart. Then the church will be on fire. We need to be humble and willing to face persecution, like the church at Smyrna. We need to keep His Word and not deny His name, like the church at Philadelphia.

Jesus prayed
Jesus prayed for the church through the ages, including us, saying, “I pray for those who will believe in me through their [the disciples] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17: 20-23).

Unity in Christ is what our purpose in this life is all about!

Blessings, Dottie