Swapped

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It is an incredible story. He traded his life for a stranger’s.

Several weeks ago, a terrorist took siege in a super market in France.  The lone terrorist held several shoppers hostage in the market and before long things came to a head.  Just when things looked their darkest, a French police officer stepped up and offered to swap his life for one of the hostages. Unarmed, the police officer traded his life for a woman he did not know.   Not long after the exchange was made, officers surrounding the building heard shots and stormed the building.  The terrorist was defeated but the policeman who had willingly offered himself up was shot, gravely injured and later died.

The French President called him, “ a hero with exceptional courage that gave his life for his country to which he had already given so much to end the plot of a deadly terrorist, he fell as a hero.”

It is an incredible story.  He traded his life for a stranger’s.

Several centuries ago, a terrorist took siege on this planet.  The lone terrorist held human beings hostage and before long things came to a head.   Just when things looked their darkest, Jesus of Nazareth stepped up and offered to swap his life for all of Satan’s hostages.  Unarmed, the perfect, sinless God-man traded his life for all humans including those he never knew.  Not long after the exchange was made, he was savagely beaten, mocked and hung on a cross to die. The sky went dark, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, and a great earthquake shook the land.  The terrorist was defeated and the Lamb of God who had willingly sacrificed himself was dead.

History is defined by him and his grace and courage because he gave his life for all people of the earth for all time to which he had already given so much to end the plot of the original deadly terrorist.  He traded his life for ours. Good Friday and the death on a cross looks like the end of the story.  But in fact, it is just the beginning.

Unlike the brave French policeman who shall remain in the grave, three days later Jesus Christ overcame death and rose from the dead. He fell as hero and rose Savior of the world.  ©

Rejoice!   Christ is risen! Christine Davis

 

 

Infected

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This winter has been one of the worst seasons for the flu virus in years.  With these wicked strains it seems as though everyone is at risk. Keeping one’s immune system strong is a good offensive strategy. As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Health professionals recommend simple precautions such as covering one’s mouth when sneezing or coughing, hand washing and staying away from others when you are infected and avoiding close contact with those already infected.

But sometimes we just get sick. We can take things to help ease the symptoms for a virus such as the flu but medicines are ineffective to cure the illness. Medicine may help us manage symptoms. Vaccines may or may not boost the body’s immunity. Eating right and taking regular exercise are excellent preventative measures that keep the body strong and healthy. Our best bet is to stay as healthy as we can and do our best to prevent spreading disease to other human beings when we become infected.  It seems like common sense to sneeze into a tissue or cover one’s mouth when coughing or washing hands after using the lavatory and before eating or staying home when we are sick.    But a surprising number of people don’t follow these simple practices, not only do they risk sickness and possibly death, they put others at risk in the process by the choices they do and don’t make.

It has been the one of worst seasons for sin in years. With these wicked verbal and physical attacks, it seems as though everyone is at risk. Keeping one’s soul healthy is a good offensive strategy.  Jesus Christ said, “Love the Lord your God with all your strength, heart, mind and soul; and love your neighbor as yourself.”  As a spiritual care professional, he recommends simple precautions such as not saying anything at all if you can’t say something nice or showing kindness to and praying for those we consider “our enemies”.  Kindness and courtesy seem like common sense.  Sometimes it means avoiding contact with others when we have a case of the nasties.  And sometimes it may mean avoiding contact with those infected with the spiritual sicknesses of meanness and negativity.

But sometimes we just get sin sick. And don’t we just hate the word sin. Just the sound of it is like fingernails on a chalkboard to both Christians and skeptics alike.  We can do good deeds to help ease the symptoms of separating ourselves from God. But good works are ineffective to cure the illness, because how good is good enough? And which set of human standards do we use as a measuring stick? And let’s face facts, when I think my good deeds redeem my bad ones, I end up with a bad case of the Holier than Thous.   

Perhaps I should ask myself these two questions on a daily basis:  1) What and who is infecting me?  Germs like anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred, lying, cheating, stealing, unkindness, rudeness, self- righteousness, greediness, lust, strife, and the like kill and destroy relationships, dignity and human hearts.

 2) With what and who am I infecting?   Am I spreading pain and sorrow or am I bringing truth, joy and life to those with whom I come in contact? Does what I say, what I do and how I interact with others build people up or tear them down?  

Entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and reading the Bible are excellent preventative measures that build up immunity in a human soul. The best defense for wanting to verbally or physically rip off someone’s face, gossip about or just plain trash fellow human beings is a new life in Christ. This new life changes us from the inside out which is the best offense for chronic sin!   It seems like common sense to treat others how I would wish to be treated.   But a surprising the number of folks don’t or won’t take the medicine.  Which causes pain and misery not only for themselves but puts others at risk in the process.  And nobody is immune.   Nobody.

Like the flu virus, there is no cure for the dis-ease of sin through human effort.  It is a bad disease that all people, even good people get. We can manage symptoms.  But we, in and of ourselves can never, ever make things right between God and us. 

There is a cure.  The cure is found belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The only perfect, sinless one was sacrificed to cure the gap between my wicked human heart (and yours too) and God and is the only cure for the soul sickness of sin.  

The choice is ours to make. It is available to all. My prayer for you, dear readers, that you are or will become infected with Christ and spread His love, light and life to every living soul you meet.  ©

 Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

My Own Worst Enemy

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The other morning  I came downstairs and I was greeted by Bandit the dog who said to me, “This morning I went outside without my collar!”  Just kidding.  It was actually Farmer Jay who spoke those words for the grinning dog.

Why would it matter if the dog went out without a collar? Because if left to his own devices, Bandit is his own worst enemy.

Our farm borders a state highway and railroad tracks and both of these present a life-threatening danger to pooches if they are allowed to roam free. When we became dog owners we decided to invest in a wireless radio remote system that creates an unseen boundary to keep our dogs safe. This boundary has been the difference between life and death for our dear doggy friend Bandit.  The system is nearly fool proof as long as the dog chooses to play by the rules and not run through the shock emitted at the edge of the border.  We had another dog who from chose not to play by the rules and eventually, she paid the ultimate price.   

Hello, my name is Christine Davis and left to my own devices I am my own worst enemy.

My life borders the roads the roads of good and evil and both of these present a life-threatening danger to me if left to roam free. Luckily, when my folks became parents they decided to invest in following Jesus which provided for us an unseen fence of unconditional love coupled with an absolute moral code to keep us safe. This rescue mission through faith in Christ and obedience to the unenforceable is nearly foolproof as long as humans choose to play by the rules. Which has been for me and many before me, the difference between life and paying the ultimate price for my folly. 

On both sides of the veil.

The “thou shalt nots” trip me up much of my human life and that’s where I chose the evil road.   I think that is called temptation.  Tell me I should not and I want to.  What’s up with that?   I am in good company, the Apostle Paul who wrote nearly all the New Testament said he did the things he didn’t want to do and didn’t do the things he wanted to. No one is exempt.  Well, there was one exception and he got hung on a cross to cover my wandering ways (yours too if you only just believe it).

 

Such rebellion doesn’t make God angry it breaks his heart.  The Psalms tell us God says:” So I gave them up unto their own heart’s lust: and they walked in their own counsel.”  In other words, he allows me to make my own choices, right or wrong and wander around trying to heal my sick mind with my own sick mind.  I liken that sort of behavior to beating myself over the head with a hammer to relieve myself of a headache. Which never works. Like when I left the road of following evil and hopped on the good road also known as the self-righteous, earning my way to heaven and looking down my snoot at others road.  This is the road that tends to anger the God I see in Jesus Christ.

Most of the trouble in my life was self-created and I don’t doubt for a minute these are lessons I could have learned a softer way had I begun life in close relationship with my Creator.  But I was just too stubborn to believe it is that simple.  Because I knew (know, still struggling, but less so) better. Jesus said he came to save sinners not the righteous. And my armor of self-righteousness made it impossible for his light to penetrate the hardness of my heart.   His amazing grace wasn’t able to save a wretch like me until I was able to confess that I was (still am) a wretch.  

 And the closer I get to him and the more he shines his light over my life, the more and more obvious my character defects became.  Which is a humbling experience. A humbling experience called repentance. And repentance simply means I change direction and stop, when I get to the boundary of God’s spiritual principles.  Doesn’t mean I won’t have trouble.   But I do have less fear and more peace in the midst of trouble. And I become less of the problem and more of the solution while an earthling.

If I don’t stay within the border of this personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ by reading His Living Word- the Bible, through prayer, through fellowship with other believers, through regular confession and worship (worship of God that is, not worship of self, stuff or others) I will go right back to being the spiritually sick chick I used to be. There is no forgiveness with out repentance because if nothing changes, nothing changes.

It is a one day at time, in a row, gig to keep me from being my own worst enemy, and probably yours too.  ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

Fake News

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I remember it like it was yesterday.

I woke up early one sunny summer morning in my Aunt Mildred and Uncle Harold’s house. At the time I was a young pre-school aged girl staying with beloved relatives on their farm while my family was away.  My Aunt and Uncle had gone down the farm lane to do morning chores while I was still asleep and as young children often do, I woke up earlier than expected and found myself all alone in their home. I was too young to read, so they didn’t bother with a note and I have no doubt they thought I would sleep until their return. And for the record I was perfectly safe.  Even though my fear had no reasonable basis, all I knew was that I was scared.  But then again, fear isn’t reasonable now is it?  It is what we might describe as:

 

 

F alse

E vidence

A ppearing

R eal

In other words, fear is fake news. I am not talking about common-sense sort of fear, the kind that teaches you not to lay your hand on a hot stove burner and keeps you from doing foolish things like sticking a hot poker in your eye.  What I am referring to is the kind that robs us of living life to the fullest. That insidious, unseen predator that lurks in the shadows of our minds and hearts.

Fear is all about f words- no, not that one silly- these f words: false, fake, and future. All of my fears reside in the future and the large majority of my fears have never happened. They are fake news that don’t exist right now and most of the time never will.  Funny thing is in nearly any given moment in which I currently occupy space on this planet, ninety-nine-point nine percent of the time I am just fine and dandy.  Unfortunately, I just forget to notice that part of the equation. I have come to recognize it is when I am not trusting God that I am most fearful. What I mean to say is that when when the false evidence of fear is in the driver’s seat of my mind, I tend to lose my peace of mind and perspective of truth.   When I stay present in the moment (and don’t forget the present is a gift) and keep my thoughts in the here and now and in tune with my Creator, my fear levels tend to be lower and peace of mind higher.  I wish I could say that my fear is non-existent, but that wouldn’t be completely honest.  When my thoughts wander to the non-reality of “what if” land my serenity level is lower. 

So, why do we buy into the fake news of fear instead in the reality of truth?  If we look carefully, appears is the key word. The sad reality is most of us wouldn’t know truth if it conked us over the head and fear is easier to believe and let’s face it, it sells better.  Fear is bound up in what think we see or know to be true. And as spiritual beings attempting to be human we all too often fall for it hook, line and sinker.        

 I am speaking form experience, and have lived much of my life under the influence of some sort of low-level fear  without even recognizing what a stranglehold it had on me.  Fear has masqueraded itself in anger, pretend happiness, control, substance abuse, overeating, workaholism, people pleasing but primarily as a lack of trust in what God says is true.  Self-reliance is my worst enemy because it robs me of so much of the joy of real living God intended for me.  I’ll bet that statement is a bit of a surprise to you all, but dependence on God at all levels of my life is my strength, because like the Apostle Paul said, when I am weak, then I am strong.  You see following and depending on Jesus is not something I do, like being a member of a club or my job. 

It’s who I am.

 It is one thing to believe in God. It is altogether another kettle of fish to trust God.  And what I have learned through the school of hard knocks is that it is impossible for me to trust in God if I don’t know God personally. And the only way I will get to know God is to study (not just read, picking and choosing verses that make me feel all warm and fuzzy or worse justify a position that I want to make) but to study God’s very own Word to me,     And what I  and  the many, many, many others who have gone before me have found is that when I get to know THE God, made manifest in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, I find not just the truth, but complete truth.  And as Jesus said, if we stick with His word and keep following him we will know the truth and the truth will set us free and he goes on to say,  that who he (Jesus, that is) sets free is free indeed.  Free from what?   Free from fear.

And I like the f word free much, much better than the f word fear.   In fact, if you search the internet and ask how many times the Bible says “fear not” or “do not be afraid” you get one of two answers, either three hundred and sixty-five or three hundred and sixty-six.  One “do not be afraid” for every day of the year including leap years.   

The choice is ours: A) fear brought to you courtesy of fake news from that ancient liar the Devil or B) freedom brought to you by the Creator of the Heavens and earth through the simple act of trust. 

 In conclusion, if you follow Jesus, I ask you the same question Jesus asked his very first followers after he calmed the raging sea, “Why are you still so afraid? “ ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

 

Owners Manual

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This fall we gave our youngest daughter our decade old mid-sized sedan to take to college and purchased a replacement vehicle for lucky me.  We ended up with an SUV but because I am a farm gal I like calling it a truck instead which sounds farmish. We chose it in part because Farmer Jay drives a truck and it was hard for the old man (I can say this because he is eight years my senior and qualifies for Medicare on his next birthday) to get in and out of the sedan, but mostly because I fell for it the minute I got behind the wheel.  This rig is six years newer than my old car and a lot has changed in that small span of time.   The common-sense things haven’t changed take for instance when we (we meaning Farmer Jay) changes the oil we replace it with oil, not orange juice.   That would be dumb and ruin the motor.  And listen, I for one, don’t need to know the whys of how it all works, I turn the key and it starts and that serves me just right.  But there are plenty of things I do need to understand to get the most out of my relationship with my automobile. Therefore, I decided to read the owner’s manual.  Can you believe it?  You know what I am talking about and just why do I hate to read the owner’s manuals anyway? After all the manufacturer included it for me so I could have a better experience.  

By today’s standards the fanciest part of my previous car is the satellite radio and seat heaters. But with my new wheels things aren’t as simple.  The owner’s manual told me about all the important things and the fluff stuff it can do.  I won’t remember it all, so I know that I will be referring to it again and again.  One thing I will remember is the lane control button. It beeps at me if I slip out of my lane.  I kept it turned on until Farmer Jay said it would help remind him about my bad driving.  Then I promptly shut it off. But, that feature may help save my life if I take my eyes off the road, so I think I will turn it back on, regardless of my dear husband’s snarky comments.   In fact, it probably would be best if I continue to refer to the manual in order to reduce the likely hood of serious trouble in the future.

 I too came with an owner’s manual. The Bible, AKA the Holy Word of God and golly, since He is my (yours too!) manufacturer and He dictated it for all of us to read; wouldn’t it make sense to read it?  That way we might have not only a better relationship with ourselves but with Him and with other humans.   A few years back when I was younger, life was simpler.  Today it’s more complicated.  And my foolish pride is the only reason I didn’t read and trust in the Owner’s Manual. I spent far too much time looking left or right or at other human beings instead of up and down and in The Book to operate my life.  And it shows.  

Thank goodness, I finally did because it was there and only there I found complete truth.  I won’t remember it all so I need to refer to it again and again. It has the instructions I need to be sure my soul returns to the factory (Heaven) once my body ends up in the boneyard.  Not only that, I live in enemy (Satan) occupied territory here on earth and boy do I need to know the important stuff and the fluff stuff so I can keep my eyes on Jesus. That way I am less likely to wander out of my lane (the narrow road) and crash into someone else.   Joseph Stalin once said that America is like a healthy body with God as the head.  But somewhere along the line we chopped off the head. Instead of checking the Manufacturer’s Owner’s Manual in our confused attempt to play little g gods, we make up our own rules and/or make the rules our god. Which causes us to stumble along like the blind leading the blind rather than admitting that our Big G God – our Manufacturer -Creator – know what’s best for us.  We are substituting orange juice for oil and the end result is ruination.

The old line no God, no peace holds true and I see it all around us in the world today. Just so, the second part of the line: Know God, know peace is true in the midst of the world’s chaos. And there is only one place to get to know Him, the Bible, and only Christianity promotes a personal relationship with the God of the Universe and folks that is accomplished by believing and following Jesus Christ.   I have found it is not enough to simply believe in God, I must believe God.

 Honestly, I don’t know how my truck works and I don’t know how God works either and frankly I don’t care because since I began reading and following, my life is so much better.  Not trouble free, but fear free!  And joy filled despite the troubles that do come.   But I do know this, if I continue to refer to and trust in the Manufacturer Owner’s Manual, I will reduce the likely hood of serious trouble in the future.  © 

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in Him.  Nahum 1:7 KJV 

Happy reading and you will be:

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

The Harvest is Plentiful

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In the opening line in his 1889 book On the Wall, Rudyard Kipling, best known for writing The Jungle Book, is credited with dubbing prostitution the oldest profession in the world. I wonder where on earth he came up with that notion, and why the world has believed it ever since.  According to the world’s oldest and longest running bestseller but least read book, The Bible, which was inspired by the world’s oldest Author, God – Farming appears to be the most ancient of occupations.  And my husband Jay is a farmer.

This truth was born not long after the fall of man, when the serpent and Adam and Eve had their come to Jesus moment, in the garden of Eden. Genesis chapter three tells us Adam was demoted to farming for his part in the fall after following his wife Eve’s advice. Ouch.

 I am a farmer’s wife but I don’t farm. I would call myself more of an armchair quarterback farmers wife.  I grew up on a farm and I have been a farmer’s wife for thirty-four years, but I don’t farm.  Ask me how to live the fitness lifestyle, that I can help you with.  But don’t ask me which corn hybrid to buy.  That is Farmer Jay’s job.   I figured out early on in our marriage that if claim that I can do something, I may be recruited to do it.   So, there are certain things I play dumb with, like farm work.  But there are a few things I have learned by listening and through close observation over the years.  

 Invest in good seed. Plant early. Harvest is a marathon. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Oh yeah, Jesus said that last line. Farmer Jay invests in good seed. In fact, a few years back he counted the cost and made the decision to put all his eggs in one basket and buy one brand of seed. The price was high and there was risk involved, but he has never looked back.  Jay makes every effort to get seed in the ground early, so he can begin harvest early, knowing sowing and reaping are directly related.  All the in between watering and growing is left to the Good Lord.

Harvest is a marathon and a race against time and here in Iowa, and finding people to help with harvest is difficult.  Once you get to Thanksgiving, the weather can turn nasty quickly which can hurt yields. No farmer wants that.

And neither does Jesus.

Remember we reap what we sow. And if we want to reap a harvest of leading others into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we must sow good seed.  Jesus himself gives us the best seed for planting during the Sermon on the Mount. And don’t miss this, because I did for years, just before he launches into this message he looks at his disciples and the he says, “blessed are the poor in spirit.”   Did you get that?  He wasn’t talking to everyone at the time, but just those who had chosen to take a risk and put all their eggs in his basket.  His disciples, or followers. The big crowds weren’t yet all in for Jesus and so for them to hear this deep spiritual wisdom would have sounded just like “Wak! Wak! Wak!”. I know.   I gave my life to Christ at about the age of eight.   But I wasn’t an all-in follower until just a few years ago, when I got that wonderful blessing of desperation in the middle of a storm in my life, a time where I needed Jesus every hour.   Up until that time I would say I was more of a fan, sitting in the stands watching Jesus from a distance. Today, I absolutely know for certain, that when we get off the bleacher seats and get in the field he gives the best seed for sowing him into human hearts which is the seed of unconditional love.   That’s what changes the world. Jesus said it, Love God, Love self, love neighbor, Paul said it, the greatest of these is love…. the fruit of the spirit is love.  And since I chose to follow Jesus I have to live a radically different life than the world around me.   Did you know the root of the word saint means different? I used to think it meant you were nearly perfect.  But I like different better, because perfect, I am not.

Just before he tells his disciples that the harvest is plentiful and the workers few, Jesus looks around and his heart hurts.  He sees all these lost, wandering sheep and he knows he needs help to bring people back into right relationship with God and the best harvest begins with loving on folks, most especially those who don’t deserve it.   I did it wrong for so long, I wanted to bring people to Jesus by making them feel bad about who they were or what they had done or by beating them over the head with my Bible and I never liked it when others did that to me. Most of the time people don’t want our opinion, they want our unconditional love.

Like Farmer Jay, Jesus sends his disciples out for a test drive in the field with this good seed.  He tells them to take nothing with them, travel light.   As a woman that notion alone terrifies me.   But, I want you to know I have practiced this concept and the kitchen sink no longer goes in the travel bag.  Listen, Jesus wants them, and us, to depend on the seed (the Gospel=good  news=grace=unconditional love) and God.  Like Farmer Jay, once the seed is in the ground he wants us to let go and let him do the watering and the growing.  That was hard for me because for the longest time I lived under the illusion that it was my job to fix, manage and control other people.  I found I was suffering from Savior syndrome and that is above my pay grade.   It’s my job to love them, and God will take care of the rest.   

The workers are few.  Jesus taught us how to bring people to him and it is critical that we pay that forward.   It’s up to us to get out among the harassed and hapless crowds that surround us on every side and show them what being a Jesus follower looks like. Be the light.  Love unconditionally.   Together let’s change the world.  

The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few. ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

 

Barking and Biting

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Since we lost our yellow lab Ali a few years back our dog Bandit is now a lonely only. Bandit misses other dogs and when he and I take our daily walk into town he knows all the houses with dogs and watches for them with excitement and anticipation as we walk.  I on the other hand, dread passing these particular homes because despite the fact our lovely little town has dog ordinances and leash laws, many dog owners just ignore them and let their dogs run loose. Most days we walk to my office and there are at least three houses in the fifteen-minute walk where dogs are unrestrained by fence (either visible or invisible) or by leash when they are out of doors.  One day Bandit wasn’t even with me and a canine rushed me barking and snarling startling the skin right off me. Someday I may show up to the office with this dog’s teeth attached to my leg or to some other body segment. When we encounter dogs such as this, I remind Mr. Bandit not to listen to or engage with them or it could end in a barking and biting brawl.

Our family has been blessed by our good friend Denise who has helped to train up Bandit.  He can walk, sit, and stay on leash which makes walking him much more enjoyable because he isn’t walking me; pulling my arm out of the socket or dragging me hither and yon.  His training is ongoing we and keep practicing, day after day, year after year, which takes focus, commitment and practice.  I don’t speak dog and therefore I don’t know what these doggies are barking to Bandit but I do know if left to himself he eventually would do what the other dogs do- bark, charge, and maybe bite- and some days I just have to remind him not to pay attention or listen to the other dogs, but to keep his eyes on me.  

And that goes for me too. Like pooches, people are pack animals, and though we may like to isolate ourselves and be lonely onlys, we do have to get out from time to time and encounter other human beings. Despite the fact our lovely little world has universal and absolute moral codes of behavior, we are incapable of keeping these codes and many human beings frankly just ignore them. I know I can’t climb the stairway to heaven by being good, we only get there by God’s grace and our acceptance of that.  But that doesn’t give me or you license to verbally or physically go after somebody. And folks, when you really understand grace at a heart level – because we certainly can’t at a head level – after a while, the desire to bark and bite simply goes away.

As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus I am good to go. Like Bandit, left to myself I would eventually do what the human beings around me do. I can’t be looking and listening to the world for my cues on behavior and I most certainly can no longer be engaging in it.   I have to day after day, year after year keep my eyes on the author and perfecter of my faith, which takes focus, commitment and practice.  If following Jesus doesn’t turn me upside down and change me from the inside out, I simply remain part of the problem and I’d rather be part of the solution.  Jesus reminds me as He walks with me through life I need to pay attention to Him so you all don’t end up with my teeth in your leg or some other body segment.  ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

Caged

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Our pre-school aged granddaughter MacKayla recently graduated to a “big girl bed.”  Free of the restrictions of her crib it wasn’t long before she took advantage of the situation. Instead of taking her midday nap which is very important -not just for the child but equally important for the mother (I speak from experience here folks)- she began to roam about her room.  The lack of rest created some difficulties in the family such as a tired and cranky toddler.  The unintended consequences of her moving from crib to bed affected not only MacKayla, but her family members as well.  After a while her mother decided it best for all involved to return the youngster to the crib or as they refer to it, her “bird cage.”. The truth of the matter is MacKayla can’t be trusted with her freedom.

 And neither can I.

Much of the time I don’t handle my freedom any better than this precious, precocious preschooler. As far back as I can remember I have longed to be free. As a child I wanted to be free from the restraints of living on a farm so far from town, from the rules of my parents, church and school.  Like MacKayla, when I became free from the restrictions of what or whomever I began to roam and take advantage of the situation, I just didn’t want to be caged in.  As I look back I think I confused freedom with rebellion.  I had it wrong from the git go thinking my folks and others (but especially God) were trying to box me in, when in fact they were giving me boundaries to ensure my freedom (not to mention my safety and joy). Oftentimes the more rope I got the more I hung myself with it. Wandering outside of the boundaries, like sweet little MacKayla, created difficulties for myself and others. Worst of all many of the choices I made did nothing to fill the craving for the something that I was searching for that I could couldn’t name and that seemed perpetually just beyond my grasp, which today I can identify as a personal relationship with God.  

Like my preschool aged granddaughter, I had (have) not a clue what was (is) best for me. Paul said it best in one of his letters to the Corinthians, “all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. “I tend to confuse the truth for a lie. It’s not the boundaries that cage me in, it is the pleasures and things of this world and the freedom to assert my own will.   Don’t misunderstand me please, pleasures aren’t bad. But they are the things that can and do trap and keep us in a box.  Here is a brief list: food, drugs, alcohol, things, money, sugar, handbags (my personal favorite), relationships, gambling, sex, social media, freedom to say and do as I wish without regard for consequence and so on and so forth. Choice is at the same time both a wonderful and a terrible gift.  Like snowflakes we are alike, and yet we are all different.  We crave the space be the unique creations that we are and to be free to be ourselves. And yet, deep down inside at a heart level, like little children we crave the very boundaries we fight against. In the end I have concluded going my own way keeps me caged and freedom is found in obedience to the unenforceable.

 At last report, MacKayla is launching the diaper she is supposed to be wearing across the room in rebellion from the “bird cage.”  ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

Invested

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I walked into my investment adviser’s office and informed him I wanted to move my investments out of the stock market.  I listed various and sundry reasons for coming to this conclusion.   Mark is good at what he does and I trust him. He encouraged me to stay invested backing his opinion with solid evidence. But what struck me most (in addition to the fact I was making money) was that people who are successful at investing stay invested for the long haul, recognizing there will be both up and down periods, and that is just part of the gig.  After sharing his opinion, he asked me to consider all the options and let him know what I decide.  I conclude that my initial reasons to pull out were based on fear; so, I decide not only to stay invested, but to invest regularly or as Mark says,” to put hay in the barn.” I have not regretted my decision. This gave me pause to consider what I have invested in for the long haul.  I came up with what I call the big three.  Time, money and relationships.

Where I spend my time defines what’s important to me. Sometimes.  Unfortunately, I make the all too common mistake of thinking I have more time than I really do.  Bad idea. Time, like money is spent once.  Time is finite and should be one of our most precious possessions; but I find myself wasting it.  What’s up with that?  I work better with a time budget, using deadlines and lists. Too much free time and my productivity decreases.   And here is a mind-blowing thought, just because I am busy, doesn’t mean I am productive. Busyness often makes me feel better about myself at that moment, but the danger is that it becomes a distraction from what is important, which is usually something I am avoiding doing, which may be the thing I need to do most. Like serving someone other than self. Time spent loving on others is never time wasted.  And yet there is a balance to be struck, human beings are not simply human doings and it is beneficial for us to simply be. We of faith are commanded (it wasn’t suggested) by our Creator to take a day of rest. Then we are investing in resting which is a good thing. Time is precious, I must remember to invest it well.  

How I spend my money defines what is important to me.   JC said, “where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  What’s do I treasure?   My shiny new car?  My house, clothes, jewelry, bank account?  My loved ones? Supporting spreading the good news of Jesus Christ?  Helping the poor and needy? Things are not bad, in and of themselves, but  begs the question, do I really walk the walk or just talk the talk when it comes to how I spend my hard earn bucks?  Why do I not hesitate to drop fifty bucks on something I want and hesitate to donate to yet another worthy cause?  Jesus Christ talked more about money than anything else because he knew how invested our hearts get in stuff.   He knew things would be his greatest competition as savior. I’d be lying if I didn’t say at least half of my sleepless nights have been money related, because I was invested in the idea that money would save me, it had become my God, my savior. Bad idea. I can’t take my money or my things with me when I die. But I will take Jesus Christ with me, if I have invested in a relationship with Him for the long haul.  Money is helpful on this earth, but it will never save me. When I invest my heart in my things, the stock market of my soul is bound to crash.    

 Who and what I spend my time with defines what relationships are important to me.   I have relationships with loved ones, food, money, time, friends, places, things, with myself and with my work.  Most of my life I chose not to invest in and ignored the most important personal relationship of all, my relationship with God. It is no wonder my life was out of kilter. When asked what was the most important commandment, Jesus replied, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30). Yup, all of me.   That is the most important, and most neglected I dare say, of all our relationships. And if we are not right in this relationship, all others will be disordered to some degree. And like my financial adviser, God gives me solid evidence for staying fully invested for the long haul.  History proves that those who put hay in this barn while staying invested for the long haul, through life’s inevitable up and down periods- which are just part of the gig- have the best return on investment. God is good at what He does and I trust Him.  The payoff being better relationships with everything and everyone; peace that passes all understanding and eternal life in the presence of  Almighty God.  All He asks is that we consider all the options and decide for ourselves.  The choice is yours to make.  

Time waits for no one.   

How much hay is in your barn?

Invest for the long haul. ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

The Broad Road

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While on vacation I noticed what appeared to be a well maintained trail alongside the canal adjacent to our hotel.  I decided to check it out and bright and early the next morning I set out on foot. When I arrived at the “trail head” low and behold I was greeted by a sign that read:

” NO TRESPASSING. VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED.”                         

Well alrighty then. I decide that it must be a private road not a public trail.  Glancing across the canal I spy a weedy, much less used path which I conclude is the public trail. It looked as though few people rarely if ever used it.  I look back to the nice, broad road in front of me, and I think, “What the heck” and start down the road. About twenty five yards out I meet a fellow and his loyal canine companion returning from their morning walk down the road neither one of us are supposed to be on and I stop and ask myself, “what am I doing?”  I turn right around and I head the other direction.

Crossing the sidewalk over the canal I hike on down to the scruffy, narrow trail and take my walk.  All the while I see person after person on the broad road clearly marked “No Trespassing”.  I meet no one on the “legal” trail.  After a while the “illegal” road comes to a dead end at a locked gate.  My trail takes a turn and after a time brings me to a nice road with a sidewalk.

It made me sad, because it is a reflection of  life on earth.

In Matthew 7:13 Jesus Christ tells us, “Broad is the road that leads to destruction.”  

Destruction.  That’s a harsh word. Translated: NO TRESSPASSING! Violators will be PROSECUTED!   We’ve been properly warned about that road with the dead end, and I mean dead end and yet we all, yes, you too, say “what the heck” and head down it anyway.  Some wake up in time and turn around.  Most spend their whole life on it.  I  wasted a fair amount of my life there and  did the things I was warned not to do and ended up empty and lost in my soul.  Ugh.

The good news is that I made a decision. That is all it takes.  A decision to turn around and get off that road, to repent.   The word repent means to change direction after all.  I chose a different direction and I chose somebody other than the world around me to follow.   I am following a new leader.  Jesus the Christ.   

Jesus said that he is the only way to God and “narrow is the way that leads to life and few people find it. (Matthew 7:14).  That makes me sad.   

Simple directions, but not easy to follow.  A change of direction suggested.

 A change of heart required.  ©

 

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis