Spirit Wind…

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Whether biking or canoeing, a strong head wind makes for a hard go at forward momentum.  On the other hand, a tail wind really makes for good speed and smooth sailing.  We considered that today as we rode bikes into the wind with lots of uphill challenges.  On our return trip at about half the effort and twice the speed, we commented on how much spiritual parallel there is to compare here.

If we work with God’s Holy Spirit, life flows.  It is a lot less problematic to follow The Spirit’s leading than our own leading.  Paul in Galatians (Chapter 5 Amplified Bible) says it this way:  “But I say, walk and live responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit (tailwind); then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the Holy Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other (continually withstanding and in conflict with each other),  so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.” (headwind)

What are some of those human, flesh desires?  “Immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, ill temper, selfishness, divisions, dissensions, party factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies, envy, drunkenness, carousing, etc. (Galatians 5)”  I do not think there needs to be a lot of explaining on how much trouble these things can be to a life.  It does not matter if we are talking thousands of years ago or in the twenty-first century. The SPIRIT WIND of God is trying to help us lead lives that are fulfilling and flowing.

You know what strong wind in your face combined with uphill is like.  Do I need to say more?   Choose Spirit Wind.

Blessings,

Phyllis Dickinson

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School…

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Being the youngest of four children, growing up I could NOT wait to begin school.  I loved school.  I loved going to school to learn.  It seemed that I enjoyed everything about school from the supplies, desks and teachers to friends, books, recess and homework.  I loved school so much, I became a teacher.  I loved playing school when I was a young one; loving the “pretend” teaching.  I grew up to enjoy the “real teaching” even more…and was paid for what I loved!!!!

HOWEVER…

I learned some of the most important lessons about life in a school I was not all that excited to attend:  “God’s School of Obedience”.  I did not even start that education in earnest until well into ‘mid-life’!

Here might be God’s summation of His teaching:

“Rejoice in the Lord always.…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally…whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things… and whatever you have learned, put into practice!

(From Philippians Chapter 4)

Paul, the apostle, attended the same faith school I have attended.   He learned contentment in every circumstance.  And He also learned this:  “My God will supply ALL YOUR NEED according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Hey, maybe while all students are going ‘back to school’ you can enroll yourself in God’s College.  It will be the finest, most helpful education of your life!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blessings,

Phyllis Dickinson

Cut the Kudzu…

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While riding a bike trail in Madison County, where we so often ride, we were in a corridor of Kudzu on either side of the trail.  We commented that the breeze did not seem to be coming through the vegetation as in other places of nature along the day’s pathway.

Kudzu looks so green and alive.  It seems that it should be breathing life, but the truth is that it is killing everything under and around it.  Kudzu is a ‘climbing, coiling, trailing, perennial vine’ native to parts of Asia.  It was introduced to our country in 1876 at the Philadelphia Continental Exposition as an “effortless and efficient” shade producer.  In the 1930’s and 1940’s farmers in the South were even paid to plant it using it as a soil-erosion prevention.

Here’s the truth.  What looked like a lovely, green solution to problems then has only caused many more problems now.    Kudzu is considered a noxious and invasive weed.  This import plant climbs over trees and shrubs, wraps itself around tree trunks, breaks branches and can uproot entire trees.  It grows rapidly – it is able to grow one foot per day!  It is drought and stress tolerant.  It kills other vegetation by its heavy shading.  Competition for resources becomes fierce and the native plants of many varieties of species cannot survive this invader.  Kudzu roots wherever stems make contact with soil and then vines grow in all directions.  This ‘leech’ of a plant is a ‘structural parasite’ because rather than supporting itself, it grows on top of other plants to reach sunlight.

Here is also what is sadly true.  Power companies spend $1.5 million per year just repairing damage to power lines from Kudzu.  It is very difficult to eradicate Kudzu. The underground system which can be extremely large and deep must be destroyed.

Sound familiar to anyone?  In your life have you fallen for a false and easy cover over your heart that seemed like it promised life but you are dying inside being smothered by false promises?  You may need to ‘cut the Kudzu’ out.   It may hurt.  But in the long run, you will find life.

Seek Jesus.  Read His Word.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you.  “You are truly my disciples if you live as I tell you, and you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.”   (John 8: 32)

Blessings,

Phyllis Dickinson

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Jesus, Andy and Me…

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Hello.  My name is Black Beauty.  I am a twelve-year-old Honda Civic.  I remember when I was young and my black paint was shiny, my tires were new, and I smelled like a brand new car!  Now, however, I am gently and carefully love-worn.

I belong to Andy.  He was very excited the day we met and he drove me home.  Andy has been my best friend for a long time.  He takes very good care of me and I work hard to keep him safe.  We have traveled over 300,000 miles together.  We have seen the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  We have crossed the desert.  We have viewed the mountains.

My favorite times have been watching the night sky.  I love to look up, see the beauty of the stars and praise God for all He has made.  Andy and I have adventured together for over twelve years.  We have spent a LOT of time driving, singing and listening to stories of Jesus.

If you look closely at me, you can tell that I belong to Andy.  My driver’s seat is positioned to fit him.  The seat belt is adjusted perfectly to make sure he is safe.  The radio is set to his favorite stations.  The steering wheel is worn where his hands have gripped tightly to guide us along the road.  You can find Andy’s fingerprints EVERYWHERE!

When you spend time with Jesus you will get His Fingerprints all over you.  Talking with Him daily, reading His Word, the Bible, listening to or reading from others’ writings about Him, singing to Him are some of the things that bring on His Likeness.  The more you are with Him, the more you take on His thoughts, words and actions.  Others will look at you and know that you belong to Jesus.  Jesus will guide you on all your life’s adventures.

I was created for Andy.  You were created for God.  Together you will GO PLACES in safe style.

Blessings,
Dawn Zachow from Mattoon
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Paddles and Pedals…

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A lot of our summer outdoor activity has to do with paddles and pedals.  I think we would agree with Stuart Osthoff  for our biking and canoeing inspiration.   He writes the reason why he canoes in the north woods waters:  “Canoe tripping to me is largely about what I call the priceless intangibles: beauty, solitude, freedom, timelessness, challenge, a sense of accomplishment, feeling truly alive, raw excitement, camaraderie and connecting with nature on a deeply personal level.”  (“Boundary Waters Journal” 2010 Summer)

You cannot buy these things.  They come with the territory of committing time and activity to the outdoor spaces.  We somehow breathe better when we activate ourselves and commune with God through thanks and praise, i.e. worship, when we are in His amazing creation.  Ron and I love what we receive from God’s Great Outdoors when we  walk or hike, bike and/or canoe.

We cannot help but acknowledge that there are priceless intangibles about living a faith life as well.  “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”  (Galatians 5:22) You cannot buy these things.  They come with committing yourself to being in God’s Great life of love and faith.

Maybe you don’t get into paddling and pedaling, but you can have priceless intangibles by committing to being deeply into God.

Blessings,

Phyllis Dickinson

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Traveling with kindness

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We recently went on vacation to St. Augustine, Florida. It was a 900 mile drive one way plus the driving we did around the area. I’ve learned over the years that one of the best tools you can have in your traveling arsenal is kindness. It should sit snugly beside patience in your traveling kit.  It should always be easily accessible and quick to pull out at a moment’s notice.

Kindness seems like a simple thing to bring along on a trip, but I have observed that not everyone that travels packs this valuable resource with them. Some even seem to have decided to pack selfishness and self-importance in their travel kit instead of patience and kindness. Over the years this trend of packing the wrong tools for travel seems to be exceedingly more common.  It is really sad to see these novice travelers packing the wrong tools, and thereby making their trip more miserable, as well as those they encounter less pleased to meet them.

You know why kindness is an invaluable resource to travel with? It raises the level of interaction with others, it improves everyone’s happiness, and makes not only yourself but those you interacted with glad you visited. This resource also is not just intended for those that are kind to you but to all those you interact with.  In fact, kindness may be most needed when dealing with those that aren’t being very kind.

Kindness is a trait that we as Christians should always be traveling with from the moment we wake up until the time we lay our heads upon the pillow at night.  Every person we interact with should feel they were treated with kindness, and that very interaction could have an amazing impact on their day.  Kindness shows the spirit of Christ in our words and actions. It encourages people to want to know more and walk away quite possibly with a smile.

Traveling with kindness is one of the best ways we can represent Christ in this world.  There used to be a popular abbreviation of WWJD. Which stood for “What Would Jesus Do?”.   Which I always thought had a simple answer, especially when you consider that he said the greatest commandment was LOVE.  That means in any situation when you wonder how to react or interact just remember the answer is whatever leads to showing love.  In my opinion, kindness is the easiest form of love to present to all.

As I walked along the beach at Anastasia State Park, there was a section of beach with thousands of different kinds of shells. It was a beautiful sight and it made me think about connectivity because those thousands of shells on that beach shared the same beach and even the same ocean. We are much like those shells, all different but sharing the same space, and the best way to share that space is through kindness. That way when the tide comes in, we aren’t afraid to be washed away because we know there is kindness no matter where we may be taken.  Even if some of the shells we encounter may be a little crabby.

With kindness,

Tyrone Castle

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Start Seeing Orange…

An old rustic rural country church.

An old rustic rural country church.

We often look out an eastward window to check the high school’s digital time and temperature.  Whew!  The numbers have been high and the air very sweltering lately.    But then again, it is summertime.  It is rather a lovely thing to view the setting sun when at its lowest point reflecting orange-ish-red.  Thoughts of cooler temperatures emerge at sunset.

Orange.  A safety color for crossing-guards.  By the end of August school has been in session for a couple of weeks.  Our church is also beginning a program called Orange  at the end of August.   Orange – it is merging the yellow light of God through church and the red of the heart through families at home to bring a stronger education and witness to The Light.  Orange – it is a spiritual-safety color.  We do not want to neglect ‘so great a salvation’.  Jesus is the Light and Love of the World and we want to help with the glow of that.

Would you take some time to pray for the families of our congregation?   We worship collectively but live separately.  We do not know what each other faces throughout a week.  But God knows.  If you pray, it avails much.  Thank you for seeing orange.

Blessings,

Ron and Phyllis Dickinson

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