The Serenaded Dog Walker

It’s been quite a while since I posted as the Singing Dog Walker! Today I’d like to share about being sung to, in other words, serenaded.

It didn’t happen while walking Angie, one of the few excuses for leaving home these days. Poor Angie doesn’t like social distancing one bit. Or maybe I’m the one who doesn’t like it. Frankly, it’s both of us! Angie strains and prances when she sees someone she wants to greet or would like to pet her. I just do it inwardly. Angie, the extrovert, and her introverted mom both miss socializing.Angie on walk

I have not decluttered, learned calligraphy, or studied New Testament Greek.

Good days have a structure revolving around virtual Bible studies and prayer interludes provided by local churches, two or three walks with Angie, a smidgen of editing, a good dinner (and probably too many desserts and news broadcasts).

Occasionally, when the balance tips toward too much news, I have to crank up the worship music instead. Or open my Bible. Soon, perspective is restored.

For the time being.

But God’s Word, whether read or sung, is one of our powerful weapons.

I believe it.

Recently, I’ve experienced it.

It’s obvious the enemy wants to sow discouragement, fear, and even despair. Anything to squelch the light. Steal our joy. Make us want to hide away, silence our voices and pens, and re-emerge when our officials give the okay.

But music and God’s Word, paired with prayer, push me out of hiding.

God has used two beautiful songs recently to quiet and encourage me:  Goodness of God and the The Blessing. I particulary love the version sung in the UK.

In this challenging time, the Lord has reminded me powerfully that He will never fail me and will never forsake me. He is good. He showers me with His good gifts. Nothing can separate me from His love. He loves me and knows what’s on my mind at any moment, whether I am focused on Him or not. He is hearing and responding to blessings prayed over me decades before my birth and continuing today.

And He is rejoicing over me with singing.

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Just this morning, I awakened hearing “the Lord bless you and keep you” being sung in my heart. (Normally, I just look at the clock and justify more sleep.) A few days before, I heard words singing of the goodness of God.

What an amazing heavenly Father I have. He sings to me.

How can I not say, “This is the day You have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle of Loopy Lie Valley

 

peru-2287008_1920The Battle for Independence is probably tied with the Battle of Loopy Lie Valley in deadliness. As mentioned earlier, we actually need to lose the Battle for Independence. All our other spiritual battles must be won. The great news is, we are guaranteed ultimate victory–we are more than conquerors! (Romans 8:31-39).

Generals in the Pentagon name their “operations,” probably before they start. Some of the operations have cryptic names for obvious reasons. Others have names that hint at their purpose.

But what is Loopy Lie Valley, and why did I name this battle in the first place?

In a study on spiritual warfare, our pastor recommended naming our spiritual battles. I don’t recall that he explained why, but it didn’t take long for me to see the wisdom in this idea.

–The enemy (Satan) isn’t terribly creative and original. He tends to use the same deceptive tactics over and over.

–If something has a name, it’s been identified and it’s easier to fight.

(The pastor probably didn’t anticipate the fun I’d have making my different battle names sound like cheesy westerns. Here too, the more memorable the better.)

The action in Loopy Lie Valley has the potential to last for days, and often did, when I didn’t know it was happening!

So what are “loopy lies” anyway? They are those sudden negative, condemning thoughts that won’t let go–things you thought you’d dealt with long ago. Suddenly, there they are haunting and taunting you! Know them and call them out for the lies they are!

They thrive on endless loops. Don’t bother trying to analyze your way out. Applying logic to squelch them won’t work either, because another random lie will jump in and keep the loop going. The enemy will use anything in a pinch, and I’ve found he resorts to the same loopy lies or slight variations thereof.

The loop usually starts when I recall a past sin for which I’ve repented and received forgiveness. If I attempt to deal with this in my own strength (my flesh), I will get sidetracked by attempting some sort of cleanup operation (legalism)–trying again to do what I never could do outside of God’s grace–make myself acceptable to Him again. I will feel like an imposter and wnt to hide from other believers. (After all, they have it all together and I’m the only unworthy one, right?)

This lie sounds so spiritual. Don’t let the enemy fool you–it’s anything but! Remember how he quoted scripture when he tempted Jesus?

The specific weapons I use against this loopy lie are Romans 8:1 and I John 1:9. Shout them aloud if necessary and take that thought captive to the control of Christ. If legalism has crept in and I need to remind myself that I am free in Jesus, I wield Galatians 5:1.

Another lie I fight is the lack of assurance of salvation. It used to be way too easy for Satan to get me to question and worry about the fact that I was saved at age four after hearing a talk about hell in children’s church. What more vital weapon for the enemy to steal than my helmet of salvation? What better way to halt the progress of the gospel than to make a disciple apologetic about her own salvation experience?

Mentally, I put on that helmet of salvation every morning–thanking God aloud that he authored my faith (Hebrews 12:2) when I was four and had held onto me (John 10:27-29) through my ups, downs, rebellion, and repentance ever since. Lest I dare worry about the future, I often remind myself that my salvation is a done deal (Romans 8:29-30) and that God will keep me firm to the end (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).

Rehearsing the truth every morning as I don my “helmet” has made this loopy lie rare and almost laughable. If I need to use the weapon at other times, it’s close at hand. Although I’m not as outspoken a witness as I’d like to be, I am working on boldly sharing my faith journey with believers and unbelievers.

Don’t panic if the loopy lies hit!

–Know the most common ones the enemy uses on you.

–Counter them with the antidote–truth from God’s Word.

–Don’t become self-absorbed and indulge the lies–take them captive.

–If the loop doesn’t evaporate, don’t hide from fellow believers. Enlist their support through prayer.

Remember, God gives you the victory!

The Praying Dog Walker

Is it wrong to enjoy praying?

No.

No, it’s not wrong, but that doesn’t mean I always do.

Growing up, we prayed in King James English and said a memorized grace at meals. (I confess I resorted to that memorized grace a lot as an adult, too.)

In college, there were group prayers where I spent most of the time thinking up what I was planning to say and trying to sound spiritual.

During much of my adulthood, I enjoyed journaling and those journals often morphed into real prayers. Praying in the car on the way to school worked for me then, too.

But I’ll confess to years at a time that were close to prayerless.

In His grace, God didn’t let me stay that way. Eventually, I had to pray.

Fast forward a few years to the present.

I still struggle. I love the idea of praying continually, but do I have to wade through an checklist-2077022_640interminable list and feel guilty if I leave someone out? What do I do with the “are we done yet?” in the back of mind, or the thoughts about my grocery list?

 

 

Visuals help. I “pray around the country” for family members and unsaved friends, going in different directions for variety’s sake and zooming off to a foreign country on a tangent, then back again.

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I pray when I walk Angie the dog or when I’m driving. I’ve given myself permission not to finish in one sitting.

I’ve tried a schedule with a different focus on each day, but I always feel like I’m leaving someone out. Scratch that.

A couple of weeks ago, as part of our Wednesday night study on spiritual warfare, our pastor, Josh Daffern, discussed “Praying on Purpose.”  One of the strategies he described was to pray a word for someone, letter by letter–a sort of mnemonic device. (Hang in there. ACTS never worked for me, either.) His first word was PURPOSE. You can check out the recording of the study to hear how he used it, along with a great story.  I guess this process is somewhat addictive–in a good way–because Josh went on to generate several more words!

I got hooked, too. I couldn’t stop thinking of words. At last, a different focus for people and situations–something to make my routine, often burdensome list fresh and exciting. When a word popped into my head, a prayer was born, letter by letter. It was easy to tuck a quick but meaningful prayer into a stray moment.

Here’s how I used LEADERS to pray for our nation’s leaders.  You might come up with something different:

L-Pray that they will LEAN on God’s wisdom and strength.

E-Pray that they will lead with EXCELLENCE.

A-Pray that they will be ABLE leaders.

D-Pray that they will be DEDICATED to serving God and their constituents.

E-Pray that they will have ENCOURAGERS in their lives.

R-Pray that they will LIVE RIGHT. (Thanks, Pastor Josh, for R.)

S-Pray that they will be SAVED.

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What can you do with THANKS? (See my answers below.)

Before you grab a notebook and pen and go crazy, let me tell you why this has been such a liberating strategy for me:

  • Since I live in a world of words, this process automatically puts me in “pray continually” mode.
  • As I use little bits of time throughout the day to pray, I connect more often with God.
  • I avoid meaningless repetition because I can change the mnemonic when things get stale. I don’t dread a particular category on my list.
  • When I forget what a letter stands for, I’m prompted to think of a different meaning–hence, more variety.
  • If you pray in a group, with a spouse, or with your children, generating words to pray would be an engaging activity. You could even use a person’s name as a springboard for prayer.

No, my prayers haven’t become one giant acrostic, but this strategy has answered a need in my life. I hope you’ll try it, too.

It’s okay to enjoy prayer.

Let me know how it works for you!

Here’s what I did with THANKS:

T-TANGIBLE blessings; H-HEAVENLY blessings; A-ADVANTAGES; N-NATURE and creation;

K-KINSHIP with Jesus; S-SALVATION.