Posted by: S. L. Doss | September 6, 2014

Principles to Live By #7

UNDERSTAND ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD

When you get a new job with a great salary, have awesome co-workers and easy work, it’s not hard to believe that God’s blessings are upon you and that He’s working for your good. But when you have to force yourself to go to a dead-end job each day, your co-workers are plotting your termination or you have too much month left at the end of your money, it’s easy to feel like God has abandoned you or is against you. You may find yourself asking how all this can work for your good or be God’s will for you.

Our steps are ordered of the Lord.

Scripture says that He lights our path and that we are guided by His hand and lots of other statements about how He’s in control and working it all out. But in the midst of the storm, when sickness riddles your body with pain, or when each step takes a herculean effort to keep moving, it’s hard to remember this.

The Apostle Paul experienced a hard life after becoming a Christian. One particular trip, he was shipwrecked on an island far from home. That was bad enough, but when he was at the fire warming his hands, a snake jumped out and latched onto his hand. The natives at first thought that Paul must be evil and the snake was sent to punish him by death. But when Paul simply shook off the serpent and kept going, they were amazed. The situation that seemed so bad was really a perfect opportunity for Paul to share the love of God to the natives. He would not have had a chance to even talk to these natives had he not been shipwrecked, nor would they have been as receptive to the message if they’d not witnessed a miracle themselves.

Okay, I know that was like, centuries ago, but how does that apply now?

Well, here’s an example from this year. My pastor who recently passed away had been very sick for a very long time. He suffered great pain and weakness, had multiple surgeries, and seemed to be in the hospital more in his last year than he was at home. Now, he could have felt sorry for himself, especially when he realized that the doctors could do no more. He could have ranted at God, angry because he wasn’t healed even though he’d served the Lord for 40+ years. But he didn’t. He stayed faithful, trusting God to help him each day. The doctors and nurses were amazed at his attitude, and he had many opportunities to share his faith with the hospital workers. It also strengthened the faith of his congregation, who saw a man standing strong in faith even though he was weak in body. And when he took his final breath, we knew his race was won. We would have not gained the spiritual strength we now have, and those who heard his story would not have, if he had not gone through that dark place.

“All things” means ALL things

Black is such a dark color; in fact, there’s no darker. Any other color in the spectrum, as it gets darker and deeper, will eventually become black. It’s a color we don’t want in our lives because it symbolizes evil, struggle, loneliness, pain, abandonment, and any other negative feeling we may experience. However, a black accent can make a mundane picture vibrant by giving the brighter colors some contrast to emphasize their beauty.

God uses the good, the bad, the strong, the weak, the victories, the failures, the struggles and the triumphs to paint the masterpiece which is our life. The negatives are that extra “umph,” that contrast which makes the blessings and joys, the positives in our lives stand out.

Understanding that everything we experience works together for our good will help strengthen our outlook on life in general and our trust in God in particular. We will understand that God is in the midst of whatever, even the pain. We see Him work, making us strong, drawing us closer to Him, opening doors to share His love with someone else. We can bear the fire better, knowing that it’s not meant to burn us up, but to purify the gold within, to not destroy us but make us beautiful. That in the end, we have always been in His hand, in His will, and will receive the reward He has prepared for us.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

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Posted by: S. L. Doss | August 2, 2014

Principles to Live By #6

REALIZE YOU WON’T BE TEMPTED MORE THAN YOU CAN BEAR

Sometimes in life we face challenges that seem like mountains before us. We feel like we’re banging our heads against a brick wall, and that nothing we do gets us through. The weight of the world pushes us down, and we want to just give up and die.

We wonder where God is. Does He hear our cry? Does He care? Is He trying to break us? We cry out in pain, anger and frustration, lashing out because we feel abandoned and rejected. We grow impatient, unable to wait for Him to solve the situation, which makes it worse.

Instead of thinking that the trials and challenges we face are meant to destroy, what if we instead consider the troubles as opportunities to grow in endurance and faith. That these problems make us stronger with God and in God.

Let’s look at the physical body. You can’t build muscles without exerting them. If you just sit and don’t exercise, you’ll find yourself getting weaker and your muscles turning to flab. But, on the other hand, if you lift weights and do strength training, your muscles bulk up and get stronger. As time goes on, you can lift greater and greater weight, and what used to be impossible now takes minimal effort.

It’s the same way in the spirit. You cannot grow in faith if your faith is not challenged and exercised. You cannot understand truly how powerful, awesome, mighty and strong God is until you experience His strength through your weakness. You won’t know the depth of His ability to keep you unless you face a situation where you must trust in Him alone.

A parent teaches their child to walk. They hold that toddler’s hand, and by pulling gently against one hand, they cause the baby to reach out a foot and take that first step. The parent is not hurting the child. The parent is merely holding onto the child and helping them to learn balance and movement. If the parent allowed the child to only crawl, and always crawl, because it was easier and they’d be less likely to fall, then the parent is doing a disservice to the toddler by not helping it grow and mature. God is the same way. What seems like a painful, hard experience to us is His way to help us mature in the spirit. In essence, to walk in His way.

Remember this: If He brought you to the mountain, He will make you:

a) go over it;

b) go around it;

c) go through it; or

d) go under it.

You will not be stopped by it. He will not tempt us more than we can bear.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” – James 1:2-3

Posted by: S. L. Doss | June 30, 2014

Principles to Live By #5

MAKE THINGS RIGHT TODAY.

It’s been awhile since I’ve last addressed these principles. I’m sure you know how it is: holidays get very busy, work-loads change, and life just happens. Not only have I been away from this blog, though, I’ve also been challenged to keep applying these principles to my life during the last couple of months.

It’s interesting that the principle I return to is this one. How appropriate that I need to make things right to you, for slacking and leaving you hanging on this journey while I took a short detour.

All kidding aside, though; this is a major principle, and for some, maybe even most, an extremely difficult one.

What does it mean, though, to make things right today?

Before we begin, let’s look at ways we make things wrong:

Holding grudges

How many times has someone hurt us, and we hold the bitterness and anger inside? Every time we see that person, or even think their name, the anger boils to the point that we almost wish harm would come upon them. We even talk bad about them, and judge everything they do against our grudge.

Passing judgment based on a misunderstanding

Sometimes we see a situation, or more likely part of a situation, and immediately make a judgment against someone because of it. We don’t know the whole story, so we jump to conclusions that end up being wrong.

Lashing out in anger

It happens. We are stressed, we’ve had a bad day. We come home, wanting to kick back and relax, and the kids are clamoring for our attention. We just can’t handle one more demand upon our time or mind, so we lash out and yell. Or we are looking for a particular shirt in the pile of laundry which needs to be folded, are under the gun for time, and start throwing clothes around the room in a temper tantrum.

Fail to fulfill our word

We promise our child that we will go to the park after lunch, but then other “things” arise, and we either forget, or promise to go another day. Or, we tell a coworker we will have a project done by a certain time, but then the phone rings off the hook, and we don’t, putting them behind on their work. We commit to praying and reading the Bible every day, but the next few days we oversleep and don’t get a chance to, and by bed time we are so tired, we don’t care.

There are many more examples of ways things go wrong, but now, let’s look at making things right.

The only person hurt by not making things right is you. Oh, yes, the failed commitments or broken promises will hurt the other person for a time, but eventually they will just accept those as normal, and not let themselves be hurt anymore. But you will still suffer the pain of the broken relationship with your child, or the strained interaction with your coworker, or the isolation from the friends you passed judgment on, or the separation from and lack of faith in God.

The longer you go, the deeper the chasm and the harder it is to make it right.

Grant forgiveness

Many people think that forgiving someone means that you condone and accept their hurtful actions, and that you are giving them free reign to continue. But that is not the case. Forgiving someone is actually cutting their power and ability to hurt you. You are not giving them power over your emotions, not letting the situation rule your life. You are freeing yourself to be who you need to be regardless of them.

Get the facts, Jack

It is better to hold back judgment until you’ve gotten the full story in a situation. So, be slow to jump to conclusions, and quick to ask questions. Reach out to the parties involved and seek understanding in a loving, patient matter. Or, stay out of it and let them work it out themselves, making yourself available if they need a shoulder.

Saying sorry and repenting

How many times as children did we hear our parents order us to apologize to another? It didn’t matter if we felt sorry or not, we had to say it anyway. But as adults, we sometimes find it difficult to apologize, and the longer we wait, the harder it is. But we must apologize when we lose our temper, or hurt others, in order to make it right. And we must go the extra step, and repent of our actions, which means turn away from and try to change it.

Keep your word

Start out small. Make sure you only make promises you can keep. Keep a list or calendar, so you don’t miss important activities and end up disappointing others. Seek help if some other commitment is going to prevent keeping a promise. Be transparent and explain to the other person what’s going on, so they understand. This is probably the hardest, because we don’t want to seem weak in others’ eyes, especially our family. But that’s how you build trust and strong relationships. With God, don’t try to force your Bible reading or prayer into a rigid schedule and get discouraged if you mess that up. Find another time in the day to make up to God. Be honest to Him, also, because He knows everything, anyway.

Don’t let pride or embarrassment rule; be happy and whole and make things right today.

“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” – Matthew 5:23-24

Posted by: S. L. Doss | November 24, 2013

Principles to Live By #4

KEEP MIND AND HEART PURE BY THINKING AND MEDITATING ON GOOD THINGS

The last principle talked about casting down imaginations, which can be done through prayer and reading God’s Word. This helps us in turn to think good thoughts, to dwell on positives, to keep our mind stayed on Jesus.

Have you ever “gotten up on the wrong side of the bed?” You wake up growly and no matter what you do, your day just keeps getting worse? What were your first thoughts that morning? Were you running late, so you berated yourself? Did you spill coffee on your suit and had to change? Did you catch a toe on a chair leg?

Our moods are dictated by our thoughts. If we think negatively, we’ll act negatively. It’s that same principle we learned when computers first came on the scene: GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out. Clean code will result in good processes, but junk code, or garbage, will cause data failures and unusable results. Just like an inputter can enter messed up code, so can we let negative thoughts enter our database – our mind. We can entertain bad thoughts, or we can seek out good.

Have you ever been around a person who is never happy? No matter what they have, how God’s blessed them, they always find something to whine and complain about. And if you stay around them long enough, you’ll find yourself becoming the same way.

I’ve experienced this with a close friend of mine. She’d been blessed by God many times, healed, had debts paid, etc. But instead of dwelling on the blessings, she started wearing her heart on her sleeve and believing others were critical of her. Pretty soon, every comment someone made was an attack on her, and she found fault in everything around her. Instead of thinking of how great God was, she thought of how mean others were. It got so bad that I found myself being critical of others around me, too, until I came to my senses and stopped hanging around with her.

On the other hand, if you hang around with a happy person who is always looking at the silver lining instead of the black clouds, you find yourself with more hope that you’ll someday get through this trial. Y0u smile. You are encouraged. you become happy.

Another friend of mine is just such a person. Her husband almost died from work accidents twice. He was hospitalized with an infection that he barely survived, the same disease that killed another friend. Her son fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and just missed being caught in an explosion. Her dad was crushed under farm equipment and could have died. All these things could have brought her down, could have driven her to question “why me?” and discouraged her, but through it all she had a smile and a trust that God would see her and her family through. And He did. He saved her dad’s life, her husband’s life, her son’s life. And He has even brought a miracle by taking care of a big chunk of recent hospital bills. When I’m with her, I believe God can do anything.

So how do we get that positive mindset?

Meditate on good things

We need to fill our minds, our “computers,” with good things. Read the Word of God. Meditate on His goodness, His mercy, His presence. We must hang out with friends who are positive. We must read good, uplifting books, watch wholesome movies. We must talk about good things.

Does this mean we can never have a bad day, and if we do, we have failed? No. We are still human after all. We will still have struggles. We will still get down. We will still lose family members through death, or face a job loss or sickness. But if we focus on the positives, see the silver lining, then we will rise above the pain, discouragement, and trouble to live victoriously and peacefully. There’s a song called “Master of the Wind” by Joel Hemphill which talks about how God controls everything, and when we know the “Master of the wind,” we know we’ll make it through. There’s one verse that says it all, “Sometimes I soar like an eagle through the sky,  Above the peaks my soul can be found. An unexpected storm may drive me from the heights,  Brings me low, but never brings me down.” Meditate on God and good things, and you may be brought low by life, but you’ll never be brought down.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

Posted by: S. L. Doss | October 25, 2013

Principles to Live By #3

CAST DOWN IMAGINATIONS

It’s been a few weeks since I heard the message which began this journey, and I’m finding these principles are harder to apply than I thought. Especially this one.

Why is this one so hard? Well, probably because I have such a vivid imagination. I “see” in my mind — when I read a book, I see the action, live the plot, become the characters. It’s hard for me to tell you whether I read the book or watched the movie, because in my mind, they’re one and the same.

Now, most of the time this is not an issue, but there are times when my imagination has run away from me and I’ve scared myself silly or lost touch with reality for a moment. So I’ve learned I have to reign in my overactive imagination.

♥ Guard what comes into your heart.

Where it really becomes a problem, though, is when wrong thoughts pop into my mind which I entertain for too long. These are thoughts which are against my nature, so unlike what I normally would do, that they are obviously not from within myself. However, if I do entertain them, they could end up becoming a part of me, hurting me and others. One such thought is about divorce.

I have been married for 11 years, and we have been fairly happy most of that time. Even so, there are times when I get frustrated with my husband, mostly over silly things. I will let an irritation fester, until we are in an argument, where I explode. In the midst of the argument, the thought that maybe we should just get divorced flits through. Now, I made a commitment before God and man that I would stay married and faithful to my husband until death parts us. I believe in the sanctity of marriage, and had determined long before I even met my husband that if God should ever bless me with a spouse, I would enter the marriage covenant fully intending to never break it.

Not every thought is ours.

So, when the word “divorce” enters my mind, I know it is not from within myself. Our problems are not serious enough to even consider such an action. However, when I allow irritations to build, and arguments to erupt which could almost justify my feelings and perceptions in my own mind (because who is rational in the midst of a fight?), I entertain the thought. I mull it over. I weigh the options. I think about the “What if’s?”

So where did this thought come from?

Wrong thoughts and uncharacteristic imaginings can sprout from conversations with others. A friend could be ranting about her husband, and since some of their problems were similar to mine, I would begin to sympathize and rant with her.

Satan also could put the thought in my mind, because he’d like nothing better than to destroy my marriage. Why? Because then I’d be wounded and separated from God. My husband’s ministry would suffer. Our son would lose faith in God.

So, what could be even worse than considering divorce? Using it as a weapon in a fight. A few times over the years, I allowed myself to threaten my husband, screaming at him to get out of the house. Why? Because I was overwhelmed with the emotions of the moment and the perceived wrongs he’d done. Oh, this is not an excuse. There is no excuse for slashing anyone with an emotional knife. But in the heat of the moment, I became a raving madwoman. I lost all thought of right and wrong, and just reacted. And it has affected our marriage.

Bring every thought into subjection.

It took a very necessary, long talk with my husband to realize how much I’d let that simple, uncharacteristic thought change me from the supportive, loving wife I’d intended to be. I became aware of the fact that I imagined wrongs against me, overreacted to stupid things that shouldn’t even matter, and allowed external thoughts to shape me into a world-class witch. I needed to bring my thoughts into subjection.

To prevent external thoughts from affecting my life, I must be aware that not only are these thoughts not mine, but that I can’t entertain them for a minute. I must be aware of every thought, measure it against the Bible, and either accept or discard as needed.

It’s impossible to do this all the time, though. Sometimes I’m overtired and not aware. Sometimes the thought is almost justified or acceptable. How in the world can we do this, especially with an overactive mind?

Prayer. We must pray and seek God’s face. Only He is strong enough and knowledgeable enough to help us. We must seek His help and sincerely try to listen and obey.

Read the Word. The more good things we put in our minds, the less room for evil. The Word is strength and truth. The more we’ve read and memorized, the better equipped we are to judge those thoughts and resist the wrong ones.

I must take charge of my imagination, allowing it to play when it’s safe, and shutting the door when it’s not. I must also cast down, or discard, those imaginations that are not holy, true, right, loving, and pure. If I do, I will have peace no matter what comes my way.

So, even though I’m still challenged in this area, and still need to learn to weigh my thoughts against God’s Word every time and all the time, I believe I’m making progress. The arguments my husband and I have aren’t near as heated. We both seem to be able to talk more reasonably and rationally. Oh, we still get defensive, especially me. We still misunderstand the words the other has said, and get upset. But we are more able to work through them. We are both committed to having a loving, peaceful, happy marriage and home, and with God’s help, and applying these Principles to Live By, we will.

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” — II Corinthians 10:5

Posted by: S. L. Doss | September 3, 2013

Principles to Live By #2

DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING OR NOT DOING.

We humans are a nosy bunch. We thrive on the negative. We thrill when someone “gets theirs.” How can I say this? Just look around. If this were not true, we would have no need for the gossip magazines like The Enquirer or The Sun. Freaky movies and t.v. shows would be non-existent, and we wouldn’t be rushing home to see the next episode of Criminal Minds.

We “want to know” what’s going on. Reporters are aggressive, getting in the faces of the people they’re trying to interview regardless whether the people are hurting or mourning, or not wanting to talk. Newspapers put a negative slant on stories, bringing out the bad and downplaying the good.

We also tend to be judgmental. Have you ever witnessed a child throwing a tantrum in a store? And watched the parent futilely attempting to diffuse the situation? Have you caught yourself being critical, accusing the parent of being lazy and spoiling the child? Have you ever thought you’d do a better job in that situation?

We constantly compare ourselves to others. We measure our successes and failures against those of our colleagues, our family, our friends. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a classic phrase which describes our never-ending pursuit of being “top dog.” We don’t want to appear weak. We don’t want others to think badly of us. We don’t want to come in last.

Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing.

What does this really mean? Does it mean we should turn a blind eye to everything around us? Ignore the screaming kid throwing himself on the floor? Turn away from the woman at the checkout who is crying out for help? No. And again, I say a great big NO! Christ did not call us to ignore the world. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

So what does it mean? It means we need to quit trying to “get the dirt” on a situation. Quit trying to compete with our fellow man. Quit trying to make ourselves look good by putting someone else down. We are not the judge (thank God!).

“But I’m not nosy. I don’t cut others down, and I don’t criticize. I am offended that you’d make such a broad assumption.”

Ok, I hear you. But let’s look at it a different way. Joe has been a long-standing member of your church. One night during altar call, he rushes to the front, throws himself across the altar, and weeps as if his heart will break. What is your first reaction? To go pray with him? What goes through your mind as you make your way to his side? Do you think he’s feeling guilty, because he’s been awfully friendly with the new visitor and maybe he’s gotten a little too cozy with her? Or maybe he got bad news from the doctor, because he’s been requesting prayer for a touch in his body for months now. Or what if he lost his job? He’d missed quite a few days of work over the last couple of months. So you go to his side, and whisper that you are there and will listen if he wants to talk. You might even hint that sharing his burden would help you to focus prayer even more. You are just sure there’s something wrong.

But what if there wasn’t? What if the something wrong wasn’t wrong at all? What if he was weeping in heartfelt gratitude to God because God performed a miracle in an impossible situation?

Is it even your business? No, not unless he wants to share. It doesn’t matter why he’s weeping. What matters is that we pray with him, whether we know what we are praying for or not. Some things are just not our business, so we need to stay out of it. We need to let God work on the shortcomings of others…we have enough of our own to keep us busy, if we’d only be truly honest with ourselves.

We need to quit justifying our actions based on others’ actions. “Jane doesn’t come to prayer meeting, so I can miss once in awhile.” But Jane is working two jobs to support her family, and can’t make it to every service. Even if she didn’t have a good excuse, that doesn’t justify us. She must answer to God just like we do. He is the ultimate authority. He’s the only authority.

We need to not be jealous of others. John and his family have more money, a nicer house, better cars. But John is a good steward of his finances, and God has blessed him.

Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing. Put away the magnifying glass. Put God first in our lives (principle #1) and let Him fix the broken. Don’t point it out to Him; He already knows. And the worst break might actually be within our own selves. Let Him bless whom He will bless. Who knows, by focusing on Him, you may be next.

“Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” – John 21:20-22

Posted by: S. L. Doss | August 24, 2013

Principles to Live By #1 (part 2)

PUT GOD FIRST (continued)

Make regular, consistent time for God.

We spend time with those who are important to us. Do you give more of this precious commodity to a stranger in the checkout at Walmart or your family? Do you hang with friends or someone you don’t know? Who (or what) is first in your life — your child or your car?

Creating daily habits of prayer and worship not only helps us to spend time with God, but also helps us align ourselves with Him. Reading His Word, not only reading but studying, will reveal truths about the Lord which will help us to trust and believe He cares for us and has our best interests at heart. Just like spending time with our spouse helps to strengthen a marriage, we grow closer and more in love with God as we spend time with Him.

Not only is it important to spend time with Him, but it needs to be quality time, which leads us to …

Put God first.

What do we do when we first wake up? Do we grab our smart phone and check our email? Do we turn the t.v. on and check the news? Do we grab a cup of coffee and read the comics? Or do we take a few moments and talk to God, thanking Him for keeping us through the night, asking Him for help for the day, submitting our will to His?

We cannot put God first if he gets the leftovers. How would your spouse feel if you did everything else all day long, only to fall in bed late at night and say, “Ok, I’m awake for five more minutes; let’s talk.”? Or if your son or daughter wanted time with you, but you had to finish reading that novel or watching that show first? Would they feel loved and important?

It’s the same with God. Seeking Him first thing in the morning not only shows Him that He’s important, but also helps us to truly align ourselves with Him. We subject our will to Him, trusting that everything will work out better for us the way He’s planned than anything we can come up with.

When we read the Bible before we start the day, we are feasting on good things, filling our minds with His Word, crowding out negative thoughts and feelings. We are also filling up the tank so when we are faced with trials we already have the strength and trust needed to get through.

Spending time with God throughout the day, also, puts Him first, too, because you are seeking His approval, guidance, and direction. When you allow Him into every aspect of your life, you are sharing your joys, hopes, sorrows and fears with Him. Just like our families and friends want to be with us, so does Jesus.

So what does it mean to put God first? In a nutshell, it’s:

• bowing down to His Will and His Word;

• putting aside my feelings, desires, needs and wants;

• allowing Him to mold me into the person I should be and to lead me in the paths I should go;

• spending time with Him, making Him the most important person in my life.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33

Posted by: S. L. Doss | August 18, 2013

Principles to Live By #1 (part 1)

PUT GOD FIRST

What does it really mean to put God first? And how do I put Him first while still functioning in this world? Surely I’m not supposed to move to a remote mountain and spend every waking moment in prayer and meditation, forsaking my family, my job, simply so that God is first (and only) in my life. When I look at God’s Word, especially Christ’s and the Apostles’ lives, they didn’t do this. So how do I put God first?

Even though I’ve been in church for over 20 years, I still struggled with this concept. Oh, I’ve tried to serve Him with my whole heart, teaching Sunday School, performing dramas for services, running the projector. But even so, I’ve felt like something was missing. Now after studying scriptures and researching online (thank you, Google!), I think I finally have a clue.

Trust completely that He has forgiven our sins.

How many of us find it difficult, if not impossible, to forgive ourselves? Just the other day, I made an error on our payroll at work, and I’ve been beating myself up for it. Yes, it was a mistake. Yes, it should not have been missed. But we were able to correct it fairly easily and I’ve made changes in our processes so it won’t happen again.

But I keep whipping myself, which then affects my attitude. I’m upset, so I’m not as focused, which then leads to more errors. Eventually, I’ll feel like I can’t do my job, so I might as well quit.

It’s the same way with God. If we can’t accept His forgiveness, then we are essentially saying He can’t do His job. And then we are putting our failings above Him. He is not first.

Don’t look to people for answers and validation.

People are fickle and weak. Even our friends and family cannot be perfectly understanding and supportive all the time. They have off days, and may react hurtfully or unconcernedly. If we measure our worth against the people around us, we’ll be on an emotional roller coaster, unbalanced, not at peace.

Also, we humans do not have the answers. We didn’t create the world. We cannot see the future. We don’t know. And this lack of knowledge could direct someone else down a wrong path.

Look at Job. He was doing everything right. So right, in fact, that God was even bragging about him. When Satan’s attacks came, God knew that Job would stay strong and that his lot in life would be better and richer in the end. But the human friends believed there was secret sin in Job’s life. They counseled him to repent. They sat there in the mullygrubs, sorrowful. Even Job’s wife told him to curse God and die.

What would’ve happened if he’d listened to them? He would’ve lost everything, and not seen the mighty power and blessing of God.

Going to God for our answers and validation will keep us in perfect peace, knowing He will not lead us astray. Even if we don’t understand why He allows certain things in our life, we know we can trust Him to work it all out. And in the end, we’ll have abundant life and even greater understanding of who He is.

(To be continued….)

Posted by: S. L. Doss | August 10, 2013

What if…?

I heard a message at church not long ago which impacted me to the core. He started out by saying this: The words “what” and “if” separately are some of the most non-threatening words in the English language. But when put together, the phrase “what if…” will haunt you for the rest of your life.

What if I had worked at x? What if I had married y? What if I’d never moved to z? I could spend the rest of my life asking “what if?” A lot of people do, and spend their lives tormented by regret, disappointment and heartbreak.

The what-ifs are not conducive to a life of peace and balance. I can’t enjoy a happy, healthy relationship with my husband if I’m wondering if I should have married someone else. I can’t have fun with my son, enjoying each day and watching with excitement as he grows and learns if I dwell on the what if I never had a child.

So, what do I do? How do I conquer the what-ifs and live peacefully, joyfully, abundantly?

Well, I apply that preacher’s message to my life. You know, the one I said impacted me so strongly? So, what did he preach on, anyway?

Principles to Live By

He elaborated on 11 principles we all need to apply to our lives, and if we do so, we will be at peace with both God and man, and the chaos of life will no longer rule.

Join me on my journey as I delve deeper into each principle and strive to apply them to my life. Will it be easy? No. But nothing worth anything is easy. Or free. It will cost money, time, effort. But in the end, when I find that place of peace, it will be worth it.

Don’t turn away and then find yourself asking, “What if I had joined that journey? Would life be better?” Let’s learn and apply the principles of life together!

“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:18-19

Posted by: S. L. Doss | July 21, 2013

Excuses, Excuses

What have I been doing the last year and a half since my last post? Have I accomplished any goals? Have I overcome some of my weak areas? Have I found that place of peace beside the still waters, where I no longer need to reflect on the chaos of my life?

The answers are: Too much. Not really (but maybe a little). Mostly not, but still trying. I tried, but still failed.

Now, I could sit here and say the reason is because we were going through a major software change at work, and I was exhausted, too exhausted to do much more than just live day-to-day. After all, it was an intense 6 months of analyzing, planning, reviewing….you get the picture.

Or, I could say that we had so much going on at church, with the Christmas Program, Easter, teachers sick, the pastor sick, others sick, that all I could do is just maintain the status quo.

What about the fact that during that time we were also trying to really get Designs By Doss off the ground? Searching for inexpensive means of advertising, revising the website to make it more professional and clean, and practicing html code techniques to keep fresh are all very worthy, yet time-consuming endeavors.

These are all good excuses for how busy life can be. But that’s the problem. They’re excuses.

If I really wanted to accomplish goals, like finally finishing my first novel, I would’ve made time. I could have written during my lunch periods, or used a voice-to-text recorder on my longish commute to work. I could have squeezed a few minutes here and there to finish a project or two, or *gasp!* asked my husband for a hand. He’d have been happy to support me in any way I needed.

Just because I’m busy doesn’t give me an excuse to stay in the same rut I’ve always been, allowing my weaknesses to reign supreme. I could have spent precious energy on developing my strong areas, instead of letting my flesh wallow in bad attitudes, whininess, etc.

I also could have found a place of rest during a very stressful time, that place of peace in the midst of all the chaos, if I would have spent more time with God. Who says I couldn’t have prayed while driving each day? Or read my Bible to wind down of an evening instead of parking in front of the t.v.?

Instead, I allowed myself to come up with excuses why I couldn’t…when the truth of the matter was, I didn’t. I was just lazy. And there’s no excuse for lazy.

But the excuses stop here. I want that peace that passes understanding. I want to be a better wife and mother, employee, friend. I want to finish my novel, and see Designs By Doss grow.

So, instead of beating myself up, I’m falling to my knees and seeking the face of God. Because in Him, my weakness becomes strength. Because I know I can’t change myself, but He can change me, mold me into His image, the person He desires me to be. In Him is peace, wonderful peace. He can rest my overworked mind, can relax my tense body, give me great sleep. He can calm the storms around me, and help me sail the sea of crazy to safety on the other shore.

If I seek Him, and please Him, I will be a better person. A better wife. A better mother. A better friend. I’ve learned over the last year and a half that I won’t stand for excuses when I’m on my knees in prayer.

“…but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” – Psalm 34:10b

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