Category Archives: Overcoming

The Light of Purpose

If you are sailing through life and every day is Christmas, today’s blog may not be for you. This entry speaks to the countless souls who live such distressing lives that they wonder why they were ever born. An unknown author wrote, “If given the opportunity to view the planet before birth, I would have said, no thank you”.

F10475012_ml reversedor some people the multiples of open-ended crisis, empty love buckets and grievous disappointments have lent more credibility to a mind-set of futility than of hope. For these, the measure of success is another week of survival. They feel invalid; they live on the edge of despair, and pray for the strength to endure the fateful passage of time.

A well-known preacher by the name of Charles Spurgeon said, “I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.” Preaching to crowds upwards of 23,000 people, God used Charles Spurgeon to affect history, and his teachings are still circulated today. However, this spiritual giant fought the onslaught of despair for a great deal of his adult life.

Reverend Spurgeon struggled sorely through such times, yet, through a resolute faith in God, he was able to live a remarkable life of purpose. I too suffered this anguish for many years, and it is a tribute to God’s faithfulness that it is no longer a part of my life.

The good news is this – what is available to one of us, is available to all of us! It is a revolutionary certainty echoed in Galatians 3:26-29 where the Apostle Paul addresses believers:

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.  There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

So regardless of where we are on the dark path of despair, a minute from now can be brighter. You and I have access to the very same God as Charles Spurgeon; and the principles that leveraged this man beyond the darkness into the light of purpose are as available to us as they were to him.

Yes, Reverend Spurgeon did say, “I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to”.  However he followed that statement with these words, “But I always get back again by this—I know that I trust Christ. I have no reliance but in Him, and if He falls, I shall fall with Him. But if He does not, I shall not. Because He lives, I shall live also, and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and get the victory through it. And so may you do, and so you must …”.

John 14:19 NKJV A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.

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The Deep (Audio Message)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Gen. 1:1-2, NIV).  Biblical scholars say that this is an ancient way of describing chaos. As God brought order from chaos in Genesis, so too he will address the chaos in our personal lives.  This message offers some practical principles to help deal with the chaos that stirs in the lives of people like you and me.

Proverbs 8:27-29 I was there when he set the heavens in place when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above – and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.

Matthew 25:21a, His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!

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The Helper

America mourns over the senseless killings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  We cry over the loss of 20 young children and 6 adults who were massacred by a 20-year-old male.

Working in a school building I wonder what we will tell our own students concerning this news.  What will parents across our nation tell their little ones?

7977946_sI read a timely quote on Facebook that originated with the late Fred Rogers, the creator of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. It read, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”  Mr. Rogers said, “To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world”.

We thank God for the helpers, the heroes who sacrificed their own safety to protect the students during the attack at the Sandy Hook school, including the late Dawn Hochsprung, the principal who lunged at the shooter to try to stop him. God bless the teachers who quietly hid and comforted anxious children behind closed doors, the courageous first responders, the medical personnel, counselors, clergy, and others whose vital involvement will continue for months to come.

USAToday quoted one first responder as saying, “Worst tragedy that I’ve seen…” We live in a fallen world where scary things do happen. Mrs. Roger’s gave her son good counsel. But what if there is no time to find help, or what if human intervention is not enough to deliver us?

The Bible tells us that when Jesus was preparing to go to heaven he told his disciples that he would ask God to send them a Helper so that they would not be alone – ever. John 14:16 says, And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever…” This Helper is the Holy Spirit and he is able to be with us at all times so we do not need to face the scary things alone.

Saint Augustine said, “O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart.  Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there thy cheerful beams”.  The Holy Spirit is omnipresent because he is part of the Trinity; he is God. He is able to be everywhere, he can remove pain, he can bring peace that passes all understanding, and he can spiritually cradle us when we breathe our last earthly breath.

I do not believe that those who died in the Sandy Crook attack died alone. I believe that they looked for a helper and the Holy Spirit was there.  So what do we tell our children? We tell them the most truthful, powerful, and comforting story ever.

It starts with Christmas, when our Father God sent Jesus to earth in the form of an innocent baby. Jesus grew up among us as the perfect combination of God and man for the purpose of one day saving us from sin.  Hence in the most significant display of love ever known, Jesus did that very thing; he died on the cross to give hope and salvation to anyone who believes in him. Then Jesus went to heaven to be with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Helper, came to earth to be with us forever.

This is what we tell our children. “Look for the Helper – he will always be there”.

Merry Christmas!

I John 14:16-17 NCV I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 12/22/2012 7:11 PM

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Sticks and Stones

As children we recited the popular idiom, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”.

If only we could have gossip2remained in that state of unscathed innocence. Immature and uncontaminated we launched benign attacks with words like poo poo-head and stinky-feet.

Then we grew up and our naiveté was lost. The sweet youthful banter was replaced by malignant assaults of adult gossip, lies and slander. We learned that names do hurt.

As Christians we are called to submit our hearts, minds and souls to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When in right relationship with Him, it is not difficult to keep our tongues from evil and our lips from speaking lies (Psalm 34:13). We ought to strive to reflect His character by getting rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander and dirty language (Colossians 3:8).

Then why do such things persist? According to the scriptures, the words that flow from a loose tongue are directly related to evil in the heart. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

The issue of slander has become a serious one for the church. Author John Armstrong  writes, “While Christians currently debate a host of ethical issues that are very important to the life and well-being of the church I fear that too few of us are willing to actually address a sin that destroys the work of the Spirit as fast, if not faster, than almost any other sin. I refer to the sin of slander”.

Truly the wounds from the battering of sticks and stones are more easily treated than the damage caused by a reckless tongue. Whether couched in prayer, whispered in conversation, or openly declared, slanderous words launch a vile attack on the character and well-being of an individual. As Christians we must do better.

George J. Carroll  wrote the following poem.

Those that slander you
with lies and deceit they say,
Show them mercy God

This is my prayer. May God teach us and show us mercy. Putting aside the sticks, stones and name-calling, as Christians we can do better.

James 1:26 NIV If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

Matthew 12:36-37 NIV But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

1 John 1:9 NIV If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 8/8/2010 5:36 PM

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Not Going to Live Small

Although I am grateful for the thread of perpetual hope that God has been faithful to weave into the days of my life, the year 2009 was nonetheless a serious one for me. Looking over the events of those 365 days, I felt sad.35941028_s

On New Year’s Eve I almost gave way to self-pity, but remembered the passage in Proverbs 24:10 that says, “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” …I’m not going to live small; nope, not going there.

While my problems are real, they are small compared to the sufferings of others. The truth is, I know in a big way that life is not about us. God sees our plight and He cares about every hair on our heads. However, He is likewise concerned about the greater good. It’s about His focal and eternal purposes on the earth. This leads me to my next point.

In the normal course of most days I am drawn to consider the suffering of mankind – a necessary exercise for a deep-feeler like me. Before I learned of the power of prayer, I considered my emotions to be somewhat of a handicap. However, lifting the desperate needs of others up to God, the One who has the desire and power to visit and rescue people in their misery, has become my consummate duty, privilege, and comfort.

In 2009 alone I heard that we experienced close to 250 major disasters worldwide, endangering 58 million people. For example, in January, 200 people were feared dead when a passenger ferry sank off the coast of an Indonesian island during a storm. In February bush-fires in Australia rendered more than 7,000 people homeless and caused death and injury to hundreds. In March, a 28 year old man killed 10 people in the worst mass shooting in Alabama history.

Globally, wars and natural disasters have killed thousands of people and left even more impoverished, in ill health, or separated from loved-ones. The fall-out from such trauma is far reaching.

There is more. Each year in the U.S. alone, almost a million children are victimized, and 1,500 to 2,000 of them die from physical abuse. Worldwide, women and children are kidnapped or sold for exploitation. Over the course of centuries the moral fiber of mankind has degenerated to such a degree that sex trafficking has become a gainful business.

Although disheartening, we must give attention to such realities if we are to function as a society. Human rights advocate, Gary Haugen said, “God has a plan to help bring justice to the world—and His plan is us.”

We prefer to look away from these things because the truth is painful. But as responsible citizens of God’s kingdom and occupants of the earth, we must face and courageously uphold it. The convictions, passions, and love that God has placed inside of us exist for a reason. What are we doing with them?

Hebrews 10:24, says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works”. Diana Scimone has made it her mission to raise the awareness of child sex trafficking. I urge you to visit her website at The Born2Fly Project. Diana does not believe that she can stop the madness overnight because the problem is mammoth. However, she is doing her part to educate and mobilize. If enough people get involved, our efforts can make a difference.

By focusing on something outside of our problems that thread of perpetual hope that God weaves through our lives can be decisively grasped.  At the end of the day we will have spent more time praying for, doing for, and concerned about God’s purposes, than our own.

So on New Year’s Eve I almost gave way to self-pity, but was reminded to think bigger than myself!  May we all vow to reach well beyond ourselves in the year 2010. The outcome promises to be no small thing!

Proverbs 24:11-12 NIV Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?’

Matthew 25:35-36 NIV For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 1/2/2010 8:37 PM

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Some Things are Final or “Oops”

dreamstime_xs_26038741While lying at the foot of the bed, our puppy, Maggie, sat up twice in response to an unusual sound coming from the kitchen.  I was nursing a stomach ache, so I chose to ignore her.   I later learned that ignoring her was a mistake.

I had placed some eggs on the stove to boil earlier that day and left the kitchen to take a short rest.  Unfortunately I forgot about them.  Sometime later Maggie cried to go outside.  We no sooner reached the front yard when I heard an explosion from inside the house.

Returning, I quickly realized that the water had boiled out of the pan and the eggs had burst throwing their shells and innards not just onto the nearby stove, wall, and cabinets, but also across the room onto the table, under the table, and upon the ceiling.  Maggie started to eat what was on the floor while I opened windows and prepared to clean the mess; not a fun task with an already upset stomach.

As I cleaned I remembered the childhood rhyme about Humpty Dumpty who was also a splattered egg.  The rhyme goes, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again”!

Spraying pieces of Humpty Dumpty with Windex and wiping his remains into the trash, I contemplated how final the end of a matter really can be.  Humpty Dumpty fell to his death by foolishly sitting his rounded bottom on a high wall. The three eggs in the pan – well they simmered too long under hot and pressurized conditions.  In such extremes, fatality is inevitable.

The rhyme points out that even the resources of kings could not un-scramble the consequences of a poor choice.  If we desire different outcomes, then we should make better choices, and the Word of God is available to guide us.

Here are a few examples:  be self-controlled and alert (1 Peter 5:8), live a godly life (2 Peter 3:11 ), settle matters quickly (Matthew 5:25 ), walk in the truth (3 John 1:4), forgive (Colossians 3:13), esteem wisdom (Proverbs 4:8), seek understanding (Proverbs 2:1-3), be humble (Ephesians 4:2), persevere in trials (James 1:12), love God and our neighbor (Luke 10:27), and put aside works of darkness while there is still time (Romans 13:12).

If you are reading this entry, you still have time!  There is no need to simmer under pressure, or teeter in a precariously high place – come on down!  God’s own Word is there to help, and He is infinitely wise!  After all, He created the egg! Hmmm… or was it the chicken?

Romans 8:12-13 NLT Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 10/3/2009 8:52 PM

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Stop the Bleeding

In the book of Genesis we read that God instructed Jacob to gather his wives, Rachel and Leah, and their children, and leave his father-in-law’s homeland. Laban had been unfair to Jacob over the course of several years and now God was sending Jacob to the land of Canaan.

As Jacob and his family were making their covert departure from Laban’s camp, Rachel took her father’s gods. It was believed that the gods carried prosperity and protection, so when Laban discovered that both his family and his gods were missing he pursued them. Jacob, not knowing that Rachel had the gods, challenged Laban to search his possessions.

Laban began his search, but before he entered the tent of Rachel she hid the gods beneath her saddle and sat on it. She lied persuasively to her father, claiming that she was in that time of the month and could not stand up. Thoughtfully, Laban believed her and departed from Jacob’s camp without his possessions.

In a conversation with Jacob just prior to leaving their homeland, Rachel and Leah spoke angrily about Laban. We read it in Genesis 31:14-16 as follows, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children…” Laban’s daughters were hurt and offended by their father’s poor treatment of them, and they felt cheated out of their inheritance.

stopbleedingRachel especially compounded her heartache when she found it within herself to steal and deceive. She let the emotional impact of her unresolved hurt predispose her toward a chain of self-justified sin.

Forward to this century and we see marked evidence of these same dynamics. Negative behavior, real or perceived, has had a degenerative effect on countless relationships. If unresolved, such conditions breed more hurt and these excessive emotions hemorrhage all over our personal worlds. The more that we let our emotions bleed, the more that these destructive patterns will form; the result being a succession of self-serving behavior. As they say, “hurting people, hurt people”.

So how do we stop the bleeding? The answer is in the principle of forgiveness. You may shake your head in dismay saying, “You have no idea what has been done to me… are you kidding, I cannot forgive that person… how can forgiveness make this pain go away… and ultimately, why should I forgive, I don’t want to let the person off the hook!”

In my own journey toward forgiveness, I made these very statements. I know first-hand that they flow unreservedly from a wounded heart. But remember, the principle of forgiveness was established by God for our sake. He wants us to be whole, so He will see to it that our concerns and objections are addressed or overcome. Jesus gets it.

He chose to forgive those who humiliated Him, ripped the skin off His back, stabbed Him with thorns, put nails through His flesh and mocked His kingship. He knows what has been done to you and He identifies with your needs. Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us, “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.

So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Rachel carried an emotional load into her future as disconcerting as the gods that she would forever have to hide. I urge you beloved, do not do the same. Apply forgiveness to your situation and with Jesus’ help you can… stop the bleeding.

Proverbs 20:22 NIV Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.

Matthew 6:14 NIV For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Romans 12:18-20 NIV If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 9/6/2009 3:57 PM

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Managing Anxiety and Depression (Audio Message)

This audio recording is a summary of the lessons that I learned over the years concerning the management of anxiety and depression. This particular message was delivered live and was edited on the run, so please forgive any personal references between the speaker and the audience.

A great victory can be won just by understanding the truth about what we fight in the arena of anxiety and depression. By applying our faith, and by using the various tools available to us, we can be free to live a joyful and abundant life. Please click above to listen. I pray that you will be encouraged and changed by God’s power through the truth that you hear!

Psalm 94:19 NIV When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

Colossians 1:15-17 MSG He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Philippians 4:5-9 MSG Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 8/22/2009 8:02 PM – Played: 226 | Duration: 00:58:27

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Ready to Live

She sat in a frozen-like position on her couch. Preoccupied and bewildered, she stared at nothing, but fearfully expected anything. Supposition rushed through her mind like frenzied traffic, terrifying and hollow. She was desperate to run anywhere, but stayed in fear of everywhere.

Her hands tingled, and chills and sweats alternately washed over her with every sound that she heard. Her body had become emotionally and physiologically reactionary; sounds were magnified and people were complicated, yet silence was stifling, and aloneness brought dread.

In moments of intense fear she would whisper the name, “Jesus”.  His name was her entire prayer.

The woman described above was me. For some of my adult years I struggled with anxiety, depression, and finally panic attacks. I was in emotional bondage; dying inside, but desperately wanting to live.

heavenly raysEverybody has their own version of happiness. Mine was to understand and liberally embrace the life that Jesus died to give me. So, even in the dark times when I could not see beyond my fears, I fumbled and reached in God’s direction. Thankfully He was there.

The Bible tells us that God would dwell in a dark cloud. So even in our most desperate times, He is with us. He became a very personal help in my time of need. He showed Himself strong when I was weak, and He embraced me with a love that radically transformed my spirit, soul and body.

I still pray the name “Jesus”, but not out of fear, as I am no longer the woman on that couch. One day I looked up and HIS light had undeniably pierced my dark cloud. I was thawed, calm and unafraid; ready to live that life that He died to give me!

2 Chronicles 6:1 NIV Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud…”

Psalm 46:1 NKJV God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 7/25/2009 11:21 PM

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A Forever Friend

It felt like my heart cracked when I read the email that Doris died, and I cried over her loss. I met Doris about 15 years ago when she came to work in our business. She was a tall, stately, German lady who always wore a smile, and invested 100 percent of herself into everything she did.

Her personality was loving and refreshingly child-like. Meeting Doris for the first time, she would embrace you as a forever friend, and she would make it a priority to celebrate you whenever dreamstime_m_22710647nsaucerpossible. She had an arthritic condition, but as a skilled seamstress and crafter she would indomitably work her crooked fingers to create amazing gifts for people. Doris’ thoughtful and generous ways were inspiring.

Throughout her bout with cancer she had the support of devoted family and friends. But Doris’ most supreme comfort and strength came from her Savior. Her relationship with Jesus was intimate and ingenuous.

As I began to process her death, I shared her story with others, but it seemed that those who heard barely acknowledged my words. I was disheartened by their lack of emotion, so I examined my expectations.

It did not take long before I realized the obvious. They didn’t know Doris personally, so they simply could not relate or empathize. No matter how much I reminisced I could not bring them to where I was. Hearing was not the same as knowing.

I applied this observation to the most important relationship ever; that of God and man. Again, just hearing about Jesus is not enough; there is no relevance without personal knowledge. We must know Him.

While I can no longer introduce you to our dear Doris, I can introduce you to Jesus. The Bible tells us that He stands at the door of your heart and knocks. If you invite Him in, you will know Him; He will become your Savior, your Comforter, and your Forever Friend!

Revelation 3:20 NLT Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Psalm 116:15 NLT The Lord cares deeply, when his loved ones die.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 6/20/2009 11:15 AM

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Up Where We Belong

Last spring a bird built a nest under the roof of our front porch where she laid her eggs.  Soon after, two baby birds were born.  We listened to their tiny chirps, and watched them stretch there little necks toward mama when she flew in the groceries. They seemed like a happy bird family.

40883033_sThen one day as I passed by the porch door, something caught my eye. One of the babies had fallen several feet to the concrete floor below and he was barely moving.  I alerted my husband who went out and gently lifted the little fuzz-covered guy back into the nest.

We wondered if baby had much hope of living after falling so far, and having been touched by human hands.   But thankfully after work that evening we noticed mama bird comfortably perched over both babies.  The bird emergency had passed… or so we thought.

Early the next day I checked the porch and there was baby again, limply plopped on the cement. At this point we assumed that mama must have reason to push him from the nest, but we did not have the heart to leave him for prey. So my husband returned him to the nest a second time.

Three days after the second rescue we heard a raucous on the porch.  Both mama and papa were present and flying around the nest, and the two babies were straining their necks high to watch.  They were alert, curious, and strong.  Hurray!  Baby was meant to live!

Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  He points out that birds do not process the necessary human activities of life, but they are still tended to. They simply trust their Maker for their care.  Jesus wants us to understand and apply this same principle; it is God’s provision, not our own abilities that sustain us.

Baby bird fell from great heights twice in a short period of time.  Without someone providentially appointed to lift him, he would have died.  In a similar manner people also fall.  We fall into sin and sometimes also from great heights.  Family, reputation, careers; so much is at stake when we sin that we feel hopeless and wonder if there really is a way back.

The Bible tells us that if we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up.  Like baby who needed a rescuer, we too need someone greater than ourselves.  We need Jesus!  He has been providentially appointed to lift us up where we belong!

Psalm 30:1 NIV I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

James 4:10 NIV Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 4/11/2009 10:16 PM

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Go To Your Room

My husband and I raised three children, two girls and a boy. Looking back to their childhood I remember that our girls, being less than two years apart, squabbled a lot.  I acted as referee for countless disputes doughertygirls_slidsbetween them, and on the occasions when mediation failed, I would separate the two by sending them to their rooms.

It was at this point that a remarkable phenomenon would take place in the Dougherty household – these two pint-sized opponents would, without hesitation, become the closest of friends!  The girls would crouch down on either side of the air vent that was between their bedrooms, and they would talk, whisper, and giggle for as long as I left them alone.  When isolated, the nearest voice they heard became their closest friend.

In that setting the voice and attention of one another is all they had, so they sought a means to connect.  Is it not the same between us and God?  If we intentionally separate ourselves from all others and seek Him privately, we will most certainly connect with Him.

How often were you told to go to your room as a child, and how often do you go there now?  What quiet place do you go to in order to talk, whisper, and giggle with God?

Jesus knew how important this private time was. He would often leave the crowds of people and go aside to be alone with His Father. So, follow Jesus’ example, and go to your room.  When you do, the nearest voice you hear will become your closest friend!

Mark 1:35 NLT Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 3/15/2009 8:07 PM

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Sweet Victory

Processed by: Helicon Filter; KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAYou may have heard the name Rico Petrocelli.  Rico is  a retired short stop for the Boston Red Sox who played a big part in the 1967 Dream Team.  Due to his participation in that historic event, Rico has become a public speaker addressing audiences everywhere and we invited him to speak at our church.

Rico shared of the earlier days in his career, including his conversion to Christianity.  Then he delivered an insightful message about the moral decay in America over the last 40 years. He talked strikingly and convincingly of a societal war.

We are all familiar with America’s war on drugs, and the war against terrorism, but Rico spoke of another war.  He raised our awareness concerning the premeditated tactics of the pornographic industry to stalk unsuspecting youth, and imprudent adults.

Media, Internet enabled cell phones, palm devices, and other helpful hi-tech tools are being abused by misguided individuals to provide easy access to indecent content, and unsafe associations.  Unfortunately, these advances have made it easier for the immoral to target individuals across various ages and genres.

At the end of Rico’s talk our Pastor stood to dismiss the crowd.  My mind wandered back to what he had shared months before about the dangers in his world as a young man raised in Lebanon. Pastor spoke of days when gunshots prevented access to food, of bombs striking nearby buildings, and of friends being removed from their homes – never to return. The country of Lebanon has been frequently ravaged by war.

I have never experienced war first hand, but I have been affected by the distress of combat.  In 1989 I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome.  I had experienced a string of heartbreaks that frayed my emotions to the point of illness. Mine was a different kind of war.

There are seasons in life when we are battered by hard times.  They come in various forms and are often surreptitious assaults that catch us unaware.  So, how do we fight influences that undermine our society, our country, and our personal well-being?

Rico emphasized the need to remain alert to the activities and temptations around us.  He charged us to be proactive concerning what is healthy and in the best interests of ourselves and others, and he urged us to recognize the matchless power of God through Jesus to transform individuals and nations.

Aligning ourselves with God places us in a position of wisdom, safety and strength. So regardless of enemy tactics, we can make it through the battle, to sweet victory!

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

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 3/6/2009 11:05 AM

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A Divine Impact

As a practical part of my Bible college training I was required to go with one or more people to a store and purchase items as we felt directed by God. Then we were to bring the items to the home of someone who we did not know; the address being one that the Lord led us to.

dreamstime_xs_18644225It was early December and the stores were bustling with shoppers. My husband joined me and we prayed for direction concerning the excursion and visit. God was faithful to lead us.

After shopping, I knocked on the door to a white farmhouse in town, and an older man answered. He was holding a telephone to his ear, though he was not talking. The man stood a foot or two back on the other side of the storm door. I thought that he might be intimidated because the upper panel of the door was missing and there was no physical barrier between us. He stared at me as I introduced myself.

I smiled so not to worry him, and explained about the mission that I was on; telling him that the Lord led me to shop for, and deliver, gifts to his address. As I spoke, his eyes got wider and his jaw literally dropped. He continued to hold the phone to his ear; still not talking.

It appeared as though the farmhouse had been subdivided into apartments and the man was living in a one room studio. I noticed a small bed behind him pressed up against the wall. This blessed me because we had purchased a twin-size heating blanket. We knew that buying a size-specific gift was risky, but my husband and I both felt that God was leading us in that direction. Seeing this little bed confirmed to me that we had stopped at the right home.

I lifted the wrapped package to pass it through the opening in the door. The man reached for it apprehensively, in slow motion; still holding the phone to his ear, still not talking, and still staring directly at me. I assured him that there were no strings attached to the visit. I said that I was a Christian and that the visit had been ordained by Jesus solely to bless him.

Then I bent to the ground where I had placed a second gift, and raised it cautiously to the opening. It was a happy little live Christmas tree, two feet tall, and fully decorated. It was at this point in the visit that I witnessed the divine impact of my call. The man’s eyes left me for the very first time and locked onto the little tree. There was a dramatic change to his countenance. His facial expression softened, and he smiled as if the tree held particular significance to him.

Then he excitedly put down the first package and reached in my direction with his free arm, wrapping it tightly around the base of the little tree. The heating blanket purchase spoke to me, but it was the tree that spoke to the man. It appeared to be the evidence that he needed to believe my words.

As I turned to leave I said, “Jesus did this to let you know that you are loved.” With the phone in one hand and the tree in the other, he gave me a big knowing smile. We hope to visit him again one day. But until we do, I will pray for the man with the phone that didn’t talk, and the tree that did!

Isaiah 30:21 NIV Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11 NLT There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us … It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 3/2/2009 12:13 PM

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What You Cannot See

There are times in life when even our most sincere prayer and best efforts yield no visible results.  We are confused and ask the question, “Why”?

16201596_sThis position is especially true of women because of their birthing nature. Women have an intrinsic desire to see newness brought about.  When women labor over anything they inherently expect a certain result – a baby.  So, when an experience does not bear the intended result, they wonder if the labor was in vain.  “If there is no birth, has the time been wasted”?

Let us examine the birthing process.  Birth begins with conception, an idea, a calling; something brand new, that becomes.  New life lives in a place that is not visible to the naked eye where it is incubated until delivery.  We hope to bring something forth in the end; but what if we do not see the result of our labor?  What does it mean when we carry the burden for something that is never revealed?

I was pregnant four times, but I carried only three children to full term.  My second child was miscarried.  I do not believe for a moment that the conception and early growth of that child was in vain.  In God’s infinite wisdom He simply chose to count her among the inhabitants of heaven, and I don’t have the ability to see her there.

Remember Job?  We read in the first chapter of that book, that Job lost everything he had including his 10 children.  Then, in Job 42:10 we read “… the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before”. God returned everything to Job in duplicate.  For instance, before the devastation Job owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels and 500 yoke of oxen. After the restoration Job had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen.

But what of his children; in verse 13 we notice that God gave Job 10 children, the same number as before, not 20.  It seemed that God did not double the number of Job’s children as He did with his livestock. The fact is, God included in his count the 10 children who had died because they still existed.  Job could not see them with his human eyes, but God could. It is not always about a result that we can see.

David says in Psalm 131 …”I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul…”  There are times in life when no matter how much prayer or effort we devote to a cause, the result can appear futile. The challenge is to accept outcomes that are beyond our control.  We must understand that God orchestrates the conclusions to all matters for the greater good.

Like David, we have the ability to quiet ourselves when we struggle with the “whys” of life. The scripture clearly indicates that David did this as an act of his will.  He chose to stop concerning himself with the answers. God has given us this ability.  So carry on.  Your prayer and best efforts are not in vain. What you cannot see still counts!

Psalm 131:1-2 NIV My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 2/22/2009 1:07 AM

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Guard Your Heart

The scriptures tell us in Proverbs 4:23, to guard our hearts for out of it flow the wellsprings of life.  In fact, in the Message translation of 18413182_l 200the Bible the words are, “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts!”

What do you allow yourself to listen to? What words do you permit into your heart?  According to the Bible, words have the power to pierce like an arrow, cut like a sword, and trickle down into our inmost parts. They have access to our insides where they can latch onto our character, so we must learn to keep the gateways to our hearts closed to unwelcome traffic.

Our Pastor preached on the many gates that led to Jerusalem in ancient times.  Each gate was constructed and governed to allow strategic access to the interior of the holy city.  Likewise there are gateways to our human interiors. Whether the spoken words bring healing or harm, they have equal access if we do not vigilantly guard our gates.

When Nehemiah rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem, he set guards at each gate. It was the responsibility of the guards to monitor welcome and unwelcome traffic, to and from the city, and to open and close the gates accordingly.  Gates offer protection.

There are many things in life that we cannot control.  However, where we go and what we listen to are not among them. God thoughtfully designed the human body for portability, which gives us the ability to step away from unhealthy influences.

In my case I’ve learned that I am easily affected by movies, so I rarely watch them. When people say, “I was sitting at the edge of my seat”, or, “I cried through the whole thing”, it is a compliment to the effectiveness of the film. But for me, a movie can be a wild ride of emotions, exchanges, and impressions that leave me feeling undone, and sometimes haunted.

So, protect your heart by setting high standards concerning what crosses your personal gateways.  As the Proverb says, “this is where life starts”.  Guard yours.

Nehemiah 7:2-4 NLT I said to them, “Do not leave the gates open during the hottest part of the day. And even while the gatekeepers are on duty, have them shut and bar the doors. Appoint the residents of Jerusalem to act as guards, everyone on a regular watch. Some will serve at sentry posts and some in front of their own homes.”

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 2/8/2009 11:40 PM

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Draw Near

When our son was 18 years old he acted in a school drama.  He played a homeless person who lived on the street.  His character did not say a word throughout the entire drama. dreamstime_xs_28054815However, from his position in the corner of the stage, he watched as a theatrical Jesus multiplied loaves and fish, raised the dead, forgave sin, died on the cross, and rose from the grave.

The interesting thing about our son’s performance was the fact that he was not a member of the drama club that year. The drama coach wrote him into the script 30 minutes before the curtain call.  It was fascinating to watch his unrehearsed character evolve.

As the streetwise, disadvantaged outcast in the corner of the stage, his character was compelled by the witness of true love that he saw among Jesus and His followers.  He very curiously observed them from afar… and then from a closer proximity until his interest drew him from the position of onlooker, to participant.

Watching this drama I wondered how many of us, regardless of status, feel like outcasts. While we may live boldly in the face of others, there are secret reserved parts of us that quietly huddle in corners, yearning for acceptance.

God wired people to desire and prize the companionship and sanction of others.  If consistent aloneness was God’s intention, He would have created one immortal man in the Garden of Eden.  But, in fact, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone”, and then He proceeded to thoughtfully execute a plan to populate earth with kindred souls.

If you find yourself on the outside looking in, it is not too late to be written into the script.  Look center stage at Jesus’ compelling message of love.  Then draw near.

Ephesians 2:19 NLT So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.

Hebrews 7:19 NLT  For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 2/2/2009 12:31 AM

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Through God’s Eyes

As I lay my head on my pillow last night I noticed an obscure glow outside the window of our bedroom. The bedroom is situated in such a way that from this window we can see our porch because it juts out from the back of the house.

46671533_sAfter reaching for my eyeglasses I quickly realized that what I had seen was the light from the Christmas tree that we had erected on the porch the day before.  I lay back down and considered the spiritual implications of the distraction.

In Psalms 118 the Scripture states, “Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle-wonders. I’m a stranger in these parts; give me clear directions.”  With my natural eye I could distinguish a blur of illumination; no definition, and no clarity. Even squinting I could see only obscurity and vagueness. I knew something was there, but I could not appreciate the wonder of it all until I put on my glasses.

So it is when we look through the eyes of our natural man; our vision is subject to limitations. We can only see true beauty when we view the world through God’s eyes.

Do not settle for an obscure view or veiled insight when you can have clarity. Ask the Father to show you what He sees, and peer through the eyes of the Creator. Distinguish the true splendor of your surroundings, the distinction that adorns the people in your life, the glaring intents of your own heart, and the visible expression of God’s love that decorates our great earth!

Isaiah 32:3 NIV Then the eyes of those who will see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who will hear will listen.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 12/6/2008 2:27 PM

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What are you Carrying?

Most people are familiar with the story about David and Goliath, where the young shepherd boy actually killed the ruthless giant with stonesa slingshot and a stone. What gave David the confidence to fight, and the ability to win?

David accomplished the unthinkable and he did it amidst the visual and audible noise of a mocking crowd. With little support, and no armor to protect him, David not only faced the vicious giant, but according to the Bible, he ran directly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. David ran in the direction of the roar, not away from it.

We frequently find ourselves running away from far less in life; the stress of a hard day at work, the disappointment of a poor grade at school, the overwhelming feeling of responsibility, financial pressure, the need to forgive, avoidance, fatigue, guilt.  We habitually super-size our problems and let them mount like a wall of defeat before us. David was courageous, determined and secure. His giant did tower over him, yet he ran toward him with confidence.

The key to David’s confidence was in the preparation that he had prior to the battle. His God had trained him well. In order to protect the sheep in his care, he had to fight the lion and the bear, so David kept his weapons nearby.

What are you carrying that makes you ready to face a future enemy? Remind yourself of the victories that God has seen you through and don’t shy from problems. Pull out your bag of experience and run toward the roar. Knock it down and be built up in your most holy faith. With each triumph against a new giant, you will have increased confidence in the next victory.

Let those jingling stones in your pocket remind you of God’s provision. In the words of David, in 1 Samuel 17:37, “… The Lord who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine…”

1 Samuel 17:47 ESV And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands. When the Philistine came forward to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand into his bag and took out a stone and slung it, and it struck the Philistine, sinking into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.

Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 9/23/2008 10:18PM

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