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The Secret of Survival

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   My summer has been jam packed with mountain top experiences. As much as I could, I lived in the celebration of every moment. Yet, I knew that come the end of August, it would all come to a screeching halt. Then would come the valley.

   I think one of the most troubling aspects of my valleys is that I am tempted to forget what I know to be true about God.  The reason being is that Satan never lets up with those fiery darts. With all those fiery darts swirling around in my thoughts, it’s hard to sort through all that mess and find those Truth Thoughts.

   And I know that if my low times become severe enough, depression can set in. Depression is a wicked thing! One of the most deadly tactics used by Satan in depression is to drain our thoughts of hope. He will shoot one lie after another, clothe them with common sense truths, and if we fall for it… Yep, depression!

Because of that common sense truth, we will entertain the thought, and the poison of the lie will permeate our thinking. It is the lie that will motivate our actions, which is contrary to God’s will. p. 38, 3rd Edition FD

  In a previous blog, I wrote about my summer of extreme highs and lows. I had a future to face that looked bleak to me. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to face it or handle it. Then one night as I was reading my bible, I came upon the following verse: Proverbs 23:18

   The key words for me in this verse were ‘future’ and ‘hope’. As I meditated upon this Truth thought, the darkness began to recede. I’m still in the valley, but I’m not in despair. It’s still hard, but it’s not hopeless. 

   Then just yesterday, a friend shared another verse with me: Jeremiah 31:25

   I have been languishing, for sure. And I certainly am weary. Yet, I know that it is vital for me to ‘receive’ those Truth’s. That’s the secret of my survival.

  Therefore, I take one day at a time (that’s scriptural) and proceed forward. Perhaps with caution, but nevertheless forward. 

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

bobby & family 2016

   For the past year my son, daughter in law, and two small grandsons have been on stateside assignment. For 9 of those months they lived in Scotland while my son worked on his masters. Not living in a 3rd world country, we have enjoyed the luxury of easy access to them via internet.

   At present they are living with us as they prepare to return to Africa. And once again I’m faced with the painful thought that they will be leaving soon. But something unexpected happened while they were home that complicated the  emotional strain of sending them off.

Rach & family

   My husband and I have four children and two of them live near us. We take a great deal of comfort in knowing two of our daughters are close by. That was until recently! In April we were hit with the news that one of those daughters would likely be moving an 11 hours’ drive away to San Antonio, Texas. (And they did just that on August 18th)

   Therefore, this summer has been one of extreme high’s and extreme lows. There was a constant flow of children and grandchildren in our house all summer. Three of those weeks were especially momentous: Nammy Camp for the 6 granddaughters, a family vacation in East Tennessee for all 20 of us, and Nammy Camp for the 4 grandsons. The month of August our son and his family has been spent here with my husband and I.  My life was filled to overflowing with memory after wonderful memory of times spent together.

   The quote from A Tale of Two Cities (post title), describes my emotional state over this past summer quite succinctly. And predictably with every low moment I was hit with a barrage of fiery darts.

   It would have been my undoing had it not been for God’s instruction which had prepared me to not only identify fiery dart thinking but how to extinguish such thoughts as well.  While the pain persists, I’m learning by His tender mercies, how to manage it. My life moves forward as God tenderly and lovingly leads me. 

One of the most helpful Truth Thoughts I have found is Psalm 34:17:

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How does God deliver me from my present troubles and rescue my crushed spirit?

If I cooperate with God, He will give me the desire that pleases Him (Philip. 2:13) He will remind me that He will fill the void when my children move away. (Philip. 4:19).

His presence will restore my crushed spirit. Every time I began to focus on my loss, He reminds me to direct my focus towards His presence and the love He has for me. (Psalm 16:11)

He reminds me that He will work all this out for my good (Rom 8:28). 

Okay, so I have a choice!

I can pick up my shield of faith and face down the enemy with these Truth Thoughts! 

Or I can continue to focus on my losses and grow more miserable with every day!

My choice is obvious!

 

Some relief please!

   Does your life seem complicated at times?  Do you feel like you just don’t have God’s full attention? You pray for guidance but it seems God remains silent. Does the peace you earnestly seek for continue to elude you? You fast, but the answers and the peace do not come. And while you are still waiting for answers, you get punched in the gut with more problems! 

  Yet, you have the sense to know that answers won’t come from any other source. Therefore, you know you must persevere. So you keep on asking the LORD.  All the while wondering when the relief will come.

  In the meantime, fiery darts are messing with your resolve to seek the LORD. They plant doubt and confusing thoughts into your mind. With these fiery dart thoughts,  your seeking the LORD grows more complicated. For now you must sort through these dark thoughts to be able to hear from and be guided by God’s Truth thoughts. 

What do you do in these valley times? 

   Might I suggest that you attack the fiery dart thoughts (those thoughts of negativity, hopelessness, discouragement, doubt, fear, impatience, etc) as soon as they enter your mind. Replace them with Truth thoughts such as Isaiah 54:17, Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 11:1, John 14:27, James 1:2-4, Philippians 2:13, Isaiah 43:4. Words from God to encourage you, give you hope, and to lift you up.

  And we’ve all lived long enough to know that sometimes the answers won’t come quickly (which seems the rule not the exception). At times, we might find that we just have to wait for the answers that seem so long in coming. It is during such times that we must arm ourselves with verses that instruct us as we wait.

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  It is good for us to remember, that these dark times have a purpose. (Romans 8:28) God will use these times for our benefit and His glory.  Therefore, focusing on the following word from God, will keep our heads above water. And though the answers still may not come for awhile, these words will give us the relief we need to keep on keeping on. 

 Isaiah 48:17, “This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says:  I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

 

From despair to freedom!

   There was a time when despair lurked beneath the surface of my thoughts almost constantly. In hindsight and especially after my lessons on fiery dart thinking, I now know that I was being victimized by fiery dart thinking. Or using a term you might relate to easier, negative thinking.

   My schooling in spiritual warfare taught me a lesson that transformed my walk with God.  Being the people pleaser that I was, I cared too much about what others thought of me. I lost my focus as to who I was in Christ. Instead my self worth had more to do with what I thought others thought of me. Obviously, if their treatment of me left me wounded, then my self worth plummeted. 

   I now realize that my temptation to despair had mostly to do with the thoughts in my head. If they were negative (and way too often they were) then a hopeless despair pulled at me constantly. 

   Learning how to reject those negative thoughts (fiery darts) and replace them with God’s Truth thoughts (Ephesians 6:16) set me on a road to recovery and to freedom. A lengthy process, I admit, but one well worth embarking upon; life saving in fact!

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No matter what others thought of me, or what I thought they thought, the Truth thought is found in Isaiah 43:4. I learned to make that my focus.

 

God speaks!

In the last few days these (Truth)thoughts have been pressed into my thinking:

 

The trials in my life are developing perseverance.

(Came to me while I was watching someone lead a worship service)

Reminded me of James 1:2-3

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

    *     *    *     *     *

There are a few battles that I have to let God fight for me! In the meantime, I must be still and know that God is God!

(Came to me while I was sharing with a friend!)

Reminded me of Exodus 14:14

The LORD will fight for you while you keep still.

Which reminded me of Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

*     *     *     *     *

I must live my life from God’s perspective!

(Came to me as I read a blog from one of my favorite bloggers.)

Reminded me of James 1:17 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

*    *     *     *     *

 

And I thought God was being silent!

Defeated?

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The Spanish Armada

   That is a word that rings too loudly and too often in many people’s heads. For some it rings for the sole purpose of influencing defeat, especially in a Christian’s life. It rings so loudly that it drowns out the Truth thoughts of God. Which is precisely it’s purpose. 

   Isn’t it odd that this happens to Christians! Christians have God on their side and He can defeat anyone or anything that is set against His will. But it happens!

Why?

   When we first become Christians we are like infants. And like infants, we must be consistently fed and nourished in order to grow and mature. However, many Christians today have experienced arrested development. This happens because we have not remained constant in feeding upon the Truths of God’s Word. And because we have not remained constant in prayerful communication with God, we have failed to develop in a healthy manner. 

   The unavoidable results of such neglect, produces such a weakened state that Christians  find themselves easily distracted by anything that is designed to keep them from these two disciplines. Eventually, we begin to live our lives not for Christ, but for ourselves. We turn our ears to listen to the World, instead of God. 

If this describes our state of existence as Christians, then Defeated will be the word that will define our existence.

   Do you feel defeated, confused, frustrated?   Please understand that these thoughts stem from your flesh, and Satan uses them to design fiery dart thinking, meant to undermine the wonderful plans God has for you. If these thoughts are ruling your thinking, then you have been cooperating with the enemy. Perhaps, you were unaware of this. But it doesn’t have to continue. 

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The following are Truth thoughts that will ensure the victory God has planned for us!

And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 ESV

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV

Listening with the intent to understand!

    I think guys, especially husbands, are convinced that it is impossible for them to understand their wives. (I know you know what I would call that!!!!) Therefore, husbands throw up their hands at the thought of trying to understand their wives, because the enemy has convinced them it’s impossible. 

     Ah, but God, has something quite different to say to husbands about understanding their wives in 1 Peter 3:7,

In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate partner. . . ISV

     I am quite sure that the reason this fiery dart has infiltrated the thinking of husbands is because our Enemy, Satan, knows full well the blessed effect this will have on the relationship between a husband and wife. So, he cuts them off from these blessings by lying to husbands and convincing them that understanding their wives is all but impossible. 

A personal testimony to the power of understanding

I can remember vividly a time when my son was about to leave to serve as a missionary in South America! We were driving around doing some shopping to prepare for his hiking of the AT and the night before he revealed to me his plan to go to South America.

I was overwhelmed! With great effort I had finally come to the point where I could release him to solo hike the AT and the night before, he had sprung this news on me! I remember privately crying out to God, “Really, God, couldn’t this news have waited a bit? I’m not at all sure I can do this!” 

As we drove around the next day, I labored under the burden of deep sadness, trying all the while to keep it from my son! Then my son said this, “Mom, I understand that this is going to be harder on you than anyone else.” Well, the floodgates opened and the tears flowed like a river. But they were not tears of heartbreak that my son was leaving me! No, indeed, they were tears of relief because he understood my pain. From those precious words of understanding, I drew the strength that would empower me to do this hard thing. It was all I needed to move forward.

     Now, I realize this isn’t a husband/wife scenario but it is a scenario that husbands can draw from to grasp the power of understanding your wife.

     Everyone, especially wives, have a deep desire to be understood by at least one person and the person of preference is their husbands. Their husband’s understanding is the source of their strength to deal with hard things. If they don’t feel they have their husband’s understanding they become all the more vulnerable to Satan’s fiery darts of self loathing, depression, taking personally all the negative things that you and others say about them, and wounding their hearts more deeply than you can imagine.

     Husbands, don’t allow the enemy to convince you that you can’t understand your wife. The Truth Thought is that God has mandated that you do. And when you commit to this, then God will show you how it’s done. Therefore, listen to your wife with the intent to understand, not to judge or criticize! The rest of verse 7 points out why understanding your wife is so important. 

Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers.

After writing this post, I had a thought I want to share. It’s a good thing husband’s to praise your wives, but timing is everything. During a difficult or stressful moment an understanding word may be what’s required rather than praises! For your praises will ring hollow if they feel you lack understanding of their need during that moment.