Out with the Old and In with the New

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Out with the Old and In with the New

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” William Shakespeare – Merchant of Venice

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”  Mark 8:34-35 (NIV)

As a personal fitness trainer I have people walk through my door who want to change some aspect of their health. Eating right and exercise can offer a host of positive changes:  fat loss; muscle development; strength; flexibility; endurance; cardiovascular conditioning; a sense of over all well being; longevity; decreased pain; reduced need for medication;  better sleep; look better; feel better and disease prevention. I have come to understand that what all of my clients want is something different. 

One of the first questions I ask new clients is do you want to change and are you willing to do what I tell you to do to get what you want?  I have not had one person say no to that question. But honestly, I am shocked at how many of my clients just keep doing what they’ve been doing and consequently they keep getting what they were getting.  Often, I’ll ask these folks why they need me.  Change doesn’t happen by osmosis.  Everyone is excited at first (expect those who were in my office because someone else thought they ought to be, which never works).  The most successful are the ones who are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Right out of the chute I tell them they will have to deny themselves certain things they may enjoy and that while permissible, may not be beneficial. Sacrifice is involved and work must be done and at some level, pain endured. One client asked me after a month if she was going to have to think about eating right and exercising for the rest of her life and my reply was, “absolutely.”

Change means out with the old and in with the new.  

As a follower of Jesus Christ I chose to follow Christ because I wanted something different in my life.  Following Jesus can offer a host of benefits: eternal life (take a pause and chew on just that concept for one moment); forgiveness of my sins (things that separated me from God and kept me chained to stuff like anger, fear, resentment); true freedom; transformation to who I was created to be; peace that passes understanding; honesty; patience; kindness; courage, love, joy, better relationships and more.  Most people come to faith in Christ because they want something different.  Everyone is excited at first (expect those who come to Jesus because someone else thought they ought to, which never works).  The most successful seem to be the ones who are sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

Our text lays out just what it means to be a follower of Jesus.    Baptism into the body of Christ symbolizes that I die to my old self and come up out that water a new creation in Him.

 In other words I have to die. To myself.

Many believe Jesus is simply this nice gentle guy that loves children and lambs and he does, he loves lost children and lost lambs most of all and he goes to great lengths to seek us out.  But following Jesus reads easy and does hard; he lays out some very difficult standards if I want to go after him. First off he says I must deny myself.  Make no mistake that means doing what he says which includes giving up the things that are unhealthy whether or not I want to. I have to obey him and I have to give up living in and justifying my sin which means doing things differently than I have been.  All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). If I don’t he may just ask me the same question I ask my clients when they don’t do as I say, why do you need me? Change doesn’t happen by osmosis. He emphasizes sacrifice is involved and work must be done and at some level, pain to be endured.

Take for example praying for and loving my enemies. In the current toxic political environment how many of you are doing that?   (Followers of Christ only here, if you don’t follow Jesus you are off the hook)  Jesus says it’s easy to love those who are nice to you and love you already, but what reward is there is that?  (Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 6:27-36).   That means denying myself what I really would rather do to my enemies which may include hating or disparaging them, gossiping behind their backs, tearing them down or belittling them and the like.  Doesn’t mean we can’t challenge other beliefs, we can and we can certainly disagree, but respectfully, is the key word.   Hard, hard, hard but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:10).   There are times I have wondered if I have to follow him every day for the rest of my life and the answer is always a resounding yes! (Deuteronomy 6:1-9)

Our text says that if I want to follow Jesus I have to take up my cross daily, not when I feel like it or once a week on Sundays or when someone is watching; it says daily, and most especially when no one is looking except God. I have to be prepared to do the hard stuff, like forgiving those who are unkind or treat me unjustly – like Jesus did from the cross praying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34).   And we have to be prepared to bear burdens we don’t feel we are due.  Reads easy, lives hard, but by losing our life to Jesus we save it.

With God all things are possible and the reward is great for going after my Savior:  anger fades; I love God, self and neighbor more authentically; resentments disappear; truth rises to the surface; and most importantly others see the light of Christ in me and lives can be won to Christ as I begin to taste what it is like to live out who God created me to be. And  why wouldn’t I want that?

 Change means out with the old and in with the new.

 Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

Same Event, Two Views

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“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “ Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”  Matthew 2:1-2

There is a winter storm headed our way.  The weathermen have been tracking this big system for a while.  Make no mistake, it will cover a vast distance and a big change is predicted.   I just got the call that school is cancelled.  Kids are excited, the adults are less so. Same event, two views.

Two thousand years ago a star appeared over Israel.  Wise men from the east who had been awaiting the fulfillment of its prediction for some time had seen it.  The Magi (our word magic comes from this word but they were not kind who with slight of hand create illusion) were learned men, scientists of their day who tracked celestial bodies for wisdom and prophecy and were seekers of truth. Make no mistake, they had traveled a vast distance (likely from Babylon or Persia) to reach the star and to witness the king who was to bring big change.  (Numbers 24:17)

The first place these travelers stopped was in the capitol city to see the current king of the Jews and the Jewish religious leaders of Israel.   Makes perfect sense doesn’t it?  Certainly they of all people would: a) be watching for their long awaited King, it could have even been logically King Herod’s own child. If not, he most certainly would know where this king is and b) be excited about his arrival. But Matthew tells us quite clearly in his text he was not. The whole city was in fact, disturbed at the news.  There is a lot packed into those two verses. Truth be told, the last thing King Herod wanted was apple cart upset. He was already so paranoid of losing his crown that he had murdered most of his own family. And most of the religious leaders (religion means relationship with God by the way) were busy doing anything but leading others into a relationship with God.  Far too many of them were comfy with the status quo and bathing in the river of denial while cozying up to the Roman government.  They weren’t watching for or seeking truth or change. The seekers from the east were excited, but those who should have been the most excited to hear this news were the least excited; the same event, two views.

Human beings today are no different. I have found that how I see things boils down to what I am looking for and what I am seeking.  The Magi were seeking truth at its source; and what they found was Jesus Christ and they bowed down and worshiped Him.  (John 14:6 and Matthew 2:11).  Herod and most of the Jewish leaders were busy seeking and worshipping self and to them Christ posed a threat to their status quo.  In fact, when I seek truth in my life, again and again I am led to Christ, which requires a change in me, specifically, to quit worshiping myself. UNCOMFORTABLE! But my gain is huge: serenity, joy, patience, kindness, forgiveness, salvation and the like.  When I seek self and the status quo, I inevitably drown in denial, while Christ and the truth are the last thing I seek. In fact there are times I deliberately choose (like Herod and all of Jerusalem) to not seek Christ because I am  comfy cozy in my sin and/or  I just don’t want to give up things like: self pity, my need to be right, power, control,  judgementalism, unforgiveness, gossip and the like.  Ugh.

And for the change to be real and lasting it must be at a heart level, not a head level for I will never find Christ with a hard heart or in my head because there is nothing logical about this Savior of ours.

Wise men (and women) still seek Christ.  And others still do not.  Same event, two views.

Not too late, still time.

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

Road Map

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folding-map-360382_1920This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

 But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ 

 Jeremiah 6:16

Every now and again my husband Jay gets a phone call that someone is stuck on a dirt road (which becomes mud when it rains) north of our farm and that he and his tractor are needed to pull them out of the mire. Often times it is young men with four wheel drive pickups, need I say more.  Sometimes he leaves them to their own devices as their problems were of their own making. But one particular evening it was a young family headed to a charity event in a nearby town.  Being unfamiliar with the area they had relied on their GPS to guide them, which had in fact misguided them. Instead of taking the paved fork road it sent them the shortest route, which was down a mud road in the dark of night.  You see, the best route to their final destination hadn’t changed, but how they found their way had.    Now had the couple relied on an old fashioned paper map they would have arrived safe and sound as this little dirt (mud) road would not have even been on the map.   Just the other day a client of mine was telling me that as she was trying to drive to Florida; her GPS kept trying to take her to Michigan.   Luckily she had printed out directions, because when she had stopped at a filling station in the midst of a large metropolitan area to pick up a road map, they didn’t have them for sale!  In fact, the young clerk looked at her like she had two heads!

It’s the same story with God.  Whenever I try to buy into the idea that God’s plan for  human beings is old fashioned and out dated and not relevant to my modern day life, I get lost and stuck in the mud.   I have been just like those rowdy, rebellious young men who made a conscious choice to, against better judgment, take that questionable road and ended up in the mire and mud. Sometimes God has left me to my own devices since my troubles were of my own making.  But more often than not, I am like the young family, who, in unfamiliar territory chose to rely on the modern culture, which, in fact will misguide me and take me the shortest, but not the best, route in the dark of night, leaving me stuck in the mire. Which I could have avoided had I depended on the old fashioned,  tried and true road map of the ages, God’s Word and Jesus Christ. You see the best route to our final destination hasn’t changed, but how we find our way has.   Most of us no longer read the Bible or rely on God’s unchanging principles to point us in the right direction and it shows.

But misery loves company and we are in good company.  Sadly, the first man and woman and every human being right on down the line to us (I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this includes you, yes you, and don’t look at me as though I have two heads) has fallen for that old song and dance that we know better than God, like our text says, “But we said, “We will not walk in it.”.  We moderns tend to roll with something like, “How can such and old book be relevant to my life in the twenty first century?  Well, here it is, if we were to read it, we would find that although we may have modern advances, we are still getting stuck in the mire in the same ways folks did six thousand years ago.  We are still killing, stealing, lying, coveting and dishonoring one another.  If we would but read the Bible, we would find we are just like the folks in it and that we, like they,  need God to guide us.

I think this New Year I will stick to the ancient paths.

Where the good way is, and walk in it.

And find rest for my soul.

Won’t you join me?

 

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

The Winds of Change

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“But thwinde angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with the Lord. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus…for nothing is impossible with God”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered, “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.  Luke 1:30, 31, 37-38

We have had a lovely fall here in eastern Iowa. One morning not long ago I got up and it was fifty nine degrees; at noon the winds of change began to blow and the temperature dropped.  By five that afternoon it was thirty degrees colder and that was all she wrote, like it or not change had come.

Living most of my life on a farm I have come to appreciate that wind usually means change.  East wind means precipitation.  North wind cold, southerly warm. Dogs eating grass means rain, oops, that has nothing to do with wind, but is true. Winds usually precede change.  Winds can mean a good drying out, damaging winds or tornadoes; hope or chaos depending upon the view from where we sit. There is nothing more certain than change, except death and taxes I suppose. Yes, the winds of change are unpredictable, unavoidable and can be either exciting, scary and happen quickly and unexpectedly; other times slowly and gradually.

Like it or not our text announces the biggest change the world has ever known, so big that we divide time by it and the world has never been the same since.  For good reason, it is not everyday that God Himself decides to invade our world. 

The angel Gabriel appears to an obscure young woman (more like a scared teen) and announces to her that she will become pregnant out of wedlock when the Holy Spirit comes upon her.   In today’s world this is no big deal, a recent change in thinking I may add, but in Mary’s time it’s a bad situation and would have qualified her to be stoned to death!   But here’s the deal, this pregnancy is no ordinary unplanned pregnancy, it is miraculous!   In verse 26 we are told that God sent one of his top angels (angels are messengers by the way) Gabriel to give Mary the good news.  She must have been one special gal to have been hand picked by God to carry His seed in human form.  And we can tell by her response.  Once she is put at ease in the angel’s presence she pretty much says, “Let’s go! If this is God’s idea I am all in!”    And then, she praises God for what He is about to do through her.  This blows my mind, because I would have never responded this way if that news had come to me, I am sad to say!   My self absorbed self would have responded something like this: “WHAT!   Why me?  What will my parents say? What will my neighbors say? I could be stoned to death!  What will my fiancé Joseph think?  But not this faithful little gal, gale force winds of mighty change are about to blow into her life and she says “let’s roll”, trusts and obeys.  And that is why God chose her and not me!  Thank goodness, because her obedient decision affected the entire world F O R E V E R!

 I have had hard winds of change blow into my life and all too many times instead of trusting and obeying the fact that God chose me as a possible change agent in His world, I whined and moaned and grudgingly fought it.  I have to ask myself, what have I missed out on by wanting to take the easier way out?    In what ways have my selfish choices to fight change affected not only me but others?  Mary’s choice was simple, but not easy. 

Those of us who have heard this story year after year too often take it for granted or worse, think it a quaint little story that may or may not be true.  But I have come to believe that there is only one person that could have told this story to the author Matthew, and that is the key eyewitness of the story, Mary herself!  Who else would have had the details she shares with us? The end result were the miracles Jesus performed and salvation for billions of folks like me and you that she never knew because she had the courage to walk through the winds of change that blew into her life one night in her quiet bedroom in Nazareth in Galilee.  

The winds of change can bring hope or chaos depending upon the view from where we sit if we choose to recognize the signs. Mary recognized the signs because she was alert and watching.  She knew where her hope and trust lie and it wasn’t in her own human ability, but in God.   As the angel told her, “With God nothing is impossible.”

 Change is exciting, scary, unexpected and long awaited.

  What winds of change are blowing your way? Trust and obey.

  Emmanuel, God with us.

  Reason for the season.

  Believe.

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis   

Life Insurance

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insurance-451288_640“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”Hebrews 11:1

 Being self employed we pay out a ton of bucks for insurance and sometimes I feel as though we are insurance poor.  There is: health insurance, disability insurance, liability insurance, life insurance, supplemental accident and cancer insurance, crop insurance, car and property and casualty insurance and I am sure I have forgotten to name a few other types that we carry.  In today’s world it seems as though you can’t live without the sense of security that insurance carries with it.

But even insurance can let us down, if we don’t read our policy, we may be under-insured or not covered to the degree we would like to be, or thought we were, which could be a nasty surprise during a crisis and that is not a place you want to find yourself.   It is important to know your policy by reading it so that you are properly prepared should you need it.

 Being a human being, I pay out a ton of energy for “things” in my life that I think are going to “insure” my happiness and well being.  All too often I look to my relationships, my job, my money, my health, politicians, the government, or other people to insure that I will be, happy.  In today’s world it seems as though you can’t live without the sense of security these material things carry with them and many of us have foolishly put our faith and hope in. That is a slippery slope because people and things will let us down.

The Word of God was divinely inspired by bunch of different authors who wrote 66 books over thousands of years.   And in all of that sacred text only one part was written by the hand of God Himself and that is our moral code, what we know as the Ten Commandments. These are a set of spiritual principles God gave us to guide our lives and relationships with Him and with other human beings.   He must have thought them pretty important to write them in stone with His very own finger.  In addition, I have come to the conclusion that the order God put them in matters too, first things first, and the first commandment God gave us is that “you shall have no other gods before me.” The second is like the first, “do not worship idols.” There is one and only one God. And don’t put your faith in material things that will let you down.  Things like a job, or money, or relationships, or leaders or elections.  Don’t put your faith and trust in anything other than Him and his saving grace and power and for heavens sake don’t worship them. But we do, all the time.    John saw that humans did and would in the future (which is today by the way) and shared it with us in Revelation 9:20b: they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood-idols that cannot see or hear or walk. “

And if you say, well I don’t worship demons, I ask you then what has you by the throat that you can’t let go of or fix on your own?   A drinking problem? A marital problem?  A fix, manage and control problem? An anger problem?  An outcome of some type?  Those are demons that we worship in our lives instead of the one true God.   And when God referred to idols he wasn’t just referring to little pagan statues but our money, our homes, and our stuff that we worship at the altar of Keeping up with the Jones. 

What is your insurance?  What do you put your faith and hope in?  I would like to offer up The Living God who came to earth to live and die who paid the price of your life insurance policy, with His very own blood.   His policy, the Bible, tells you exactly what your coverage is and there are no fine print exclusions that leave you hanging out to dry when you need it most and it is a good idea to read it so you are properly prepared should you need it.

If Christ is your Lord and Savior, you are covered.   Period.  No worries. As our text says, “certain of what we hope for, sure of what we do not see.”

If he’s not your Lord and Savior, that will be a nasty surprise when a crisis hits and not a place you will want to find yourself in this life or the next. I encourage you to take out life’s best insurance policy, today. The cost of 100% protection has already been paid. And it’s simple to get, all you need do is ask.

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

Waiting

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my-fifth-birthdayWait for the Lord; be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, wait I say on the Lord!
Psalm 27:14

One of my Christmas traditions is making peanut brittle. Nothing like butter and sugar right? This evening I am making a batch and once again I forget what a SLOW process it is.
All the ingredients must simmer until the candy thermometer reaches 280 degrees; then I add the peanuts and continue to simmer until it reaches the hard crack stage. Sounds simple enough right?

Every year its the same routine with me. The directions say it will take 90 minutes to get to that 280 degree part; during which I am constantly checking and thinking, ” man, this is slow.” Or sometimes, “maybe my thermometer is not working properly,” or sometimes my impatience gets the best of me and I against my better judgment think “maybe if I turn up the heat it will hurry things along.” (or scorch!! Duh!)

What’s up with that?
We spend most of our life doing some form of waiting:

Waiting in line for one reason or another.
Waiting on hold.
Waiting to grow up, to graduate, to get married, to have children.
Waiting to get a job.
Waiting to pay off debt.
Waiting to get in shape, to lose weight, to get well again.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.

What is it about waiting that makes it hard?

Waiting requires some sort of faith and trust in sometimes in things seen and sometimes in things unseen.
Waiting requires patience and perseverance.
Waiting requires us to trust in something or someone besides ourselves.
Waiting means we cannot always control the outcome of a particular situation, we must wait and see so to speak.

Perhaps the waiting is this journey called life.
Perhaps it is what we do while we wait that matters.
Perhaps it is whose Hand we put our hand into and choose to walk with while waiting that matters most.

You see God created us in HIS image. We have the DNA of the Creator of the universe and we were created to long for relationship with Him. While we wait we may:

Develop faith in His Presence in our lonely dark nights of the soul
Develop trust in His sovereignty – His being Supreme
We may grow more patient of others failings and look less at our own
We may begin to do right for rights sake.
We may become less self absorbed
We may become less prone to forcing our own solutions that usually don’t help things along (turning up the heat, scorching the candy. Think of Sarah and Abraham while they waited for God’s promise of a baby to come. Sarah thought she would help God’s plan along and use her servant to bring an heir. We know how that turned out. )
We may suffer as we wait, which develops perseverance, which develops character and character develops hope (Romans 5:3,4)
We come to understand there are many things over which we are powerless, but God is not.

At the end of the day it is the reunion with Him that we long for and wait for and it is what we do that moves us toward Him while we wait that matters most.

During Advent we are we reminded that we wait on the Lord’s coming.

In life we wait to realize God is in us and with us and for us.

Wait for the Lord.
Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart.
Wait, I say, on the Lord.

It’s time to add the peanuts to the peanut brittle.

 

Ghosts

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spirit-1713646_640

As a kid growing up in a small town I loved Halloween.   Are you kidding?  What is there not to love? I could dress up in a sheet with eye holes cut out and roam from house to house collecting free candy, go home and stuff myself.  When I grew too tall to collect free candy (I must confess I made my kids share their Halloween candy with me, mostly just the chocolate) I switched to scaring myself silly by going to haunted houses and watching creepy movies.  What is it about ghosts and death that fascinates us and at the same time unnerves us in our very souls? 

Here is a brief history on Halloween, stay with me, I promise it is brief.

*Halloween was originally known as All Hallows Eve and it takes root out of the Christian Church from around the eighth century in England. *All Saints Day was a church feast day to remember and pray for souls who died the previous year that they might be released from Purgatory.

*Purgatory is believed to be a kind of holding tank for souls where they make amends for their sins before entering heaven.

*The day after All Saints Day is All Souls Day, the day to pray for those who will die in the next year and become saints, who, could be the person saying the prayer! 

  • Here we go…The night before All Saints Day was called All Hallows Eve or night of the dead and it was believed that on that night the spirits of the dead were released from Purgatory to make one last visit to their earthly homes.  Later the tradition was added to by the poor who would go door to door begging for food in exchange for their prayers for the dead.  Eventually, costumes were added depicting the dead, ghosts and the like to remind the living that salvation was still available to them and not to wait until it was too late and end up with the souls who were lost for all of eternity. And today we spend nearly 9.1 billion dollars on candy, decorations and costumes.   What is wrong with that picture?

Let’s get something straight right out of the chute. Death is a lie.  Those of us who believe in God and in Christ know that God is the Creator of all life and he doesn’t take it away, ever.  Despite claims to the contrary death is not a natural part of the life that God intended for us when he created us for his pleasure here on earth.   It was a choice we made and have paid for one life at a time ever since.  We were warned.  We bought the lie hook, line and sinker and we have been cursed by it ever since.  

I’ll say it again, death is a lie.  In our modern world few still recognize All Hallows Eve in its original form, but most Americans celebrate it in its full blown commercial form, all 9.1 billion dollars worth.  As far away as we may be from the origin of the night of the dead, it doesn’t mean that we living don’t have ghosts that visit us.  I am not talking about the spooky kind that make our hair stand on end that we see in the movies, but the more insidious kind,  like the ones who visited Mr. Scrooge in Dickens’ famous tale; the ghosts of our past, present and future. The ghosts of things we may have done, or left undone.  Or said, or left unsaid.  Or the things we regret. Or fear.  Ghosts of the choices we have made or of things that have happened to us or that others have done to us.   These are the ghosts that haunt our days and nights and that can keep us shackled in chains.

The evil set loose on the day man fell from grace opened a Pandora’s Box and the ghosts of the fateful day in Genesis visit us all. We carry them in our conscious, in our sub conscious and in our hearts in different ways and for different reasons but they are there and they are real.   As a young woman in college I believed the lie that I had a right to choose.  I was careless and selfish and that baby was going to be an inconvenience to me and speak the shame of my poor choices.  The law of the land said it was legal for me, the mother, to get rid of the child in my womb so I did.  I think the politically correct term is terminating the pregnancy.   I think the Biblically correct term is murder.  Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it moral.   Remember, in 1930’s and 40’s Germany it was legal to murder Jews. 

Fast forward eighteen years.   I am married and following Jesus, I have two children and once again, I have an unexpected pregnancy.  But this time there is no question the child will live and I sense in my soul a reprieve for the crime committed against the helpless one and against God. At this very moment another eighteen years later the Unexpected One sits at the kitchen table living and breathing and doing her homework as I, (another unplanned pregnancy) type this story.  But the ghost of a sibling she and her brother and sister will never know visits my heart and mind.  I have repented that sin.   I know I have been forgiven and yet I grieve and I wonder who he or she would have been and what they would be like today had I had the courage to trust in God rather than believe the lie.

 I have courageous friends who can’t bear children and they are haunted by the ghosts of empty wombs and would give anything to have my throwaway child.  I have another brave friend who was told in the first trimester of her first pregnancy that her child would live only for a few moments after birth and she chose to carry him anyway because she trusted it was what God had called her to do.  For the rest of that pregnancy she carried the child in her womb, the child that she Knew. Wouldn’t. Live. And she loved him and she mourned him.  After his birth she held that precious life for a few treasured moments and I have never asked her, but I have no doubt that she has no regrets save one that he is not with her today.  

Where is our hope to be found?  Where do we get peace of heart and mind and relief from the haunting of our past, present and future?   Not through mans wisdom or knowledge or persuasive words as Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians.   No, it is found in one place and one place only: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom God raised from the dead…  In the stone that the builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  “ Acts 4: 10-12.

 He lived.  He died. He rose from the dead.  He lives today.  That. Is. Power.  And with that power we lack, he sets us free from the chains, the ghosts and from the lie that is death.

This All Hallows Eve my prayer for you and me, my friends, is that we make the choice that will set us free from all of all ghosts for all time.

Be joy filled always, 

Christine Davis ©

Harvest

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the-harvest

 

 

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

Matthew 9:37

 

Harvest is here.   As a farmer’s wife, I have been given a directive by Farmer Jay that when I am out and about I am to return with a crop report.  The other day as I was driving into town I saw combines everywhere.  For those of you who are city folk or non Mid westerners, a combine is huge machine used to harvest grain crops in our case corn and soybeans.  It was a beautiful day and the farmers were hard at work reaping the fruits of their labors.  From what my husband Farmer Jay had told me the yields are some of the best ever.

But the workers are few.  Things have changed in the last fifty years.  Our nation used to be a farm based nation until after World War II when folks moved to the city in droves. Back in the stone ages when I was in high school half of the kids in my class lived and worked on farms.   Today, in my youngest daughter’s class there are only two or three kids who live on working farms.   Back then when it was time to bale hay the whole wrestling team would turn out help put the square bales on racks and in the hay mow in the barn- which is a hard workout on a hot, humid Iowa summer day!  Today, farmers bale large round bales and the wrestling team isn’t needed and most kids don’t want to work that hard in the heat even if the work was available.   Then most young men could run a tractor and knew how to do farm work.  Today, many young people think the milk they drink comes from the grocery store.  Twenty first century farmers use huge equipment and fewer laborers so finding extra help for harvest can be a challenge. The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.

When God put on skin and condescended to come to our little planet and hang out with us earthlings he oftentimes told agriculture related stories to teach us heavenly meanings. Sometimes they involved plants and sometimes animals because he knew most of the people would understand the meaning of these messages.  Please let me clarify something, a particular occupation that will remain unnamed is often referred to as the oldest occupation on earth.  Now if you are atheist or agnostic, you can buy that line if you wish. But if you claim to follow Jesus Christ, you must agree with me here, that it is not.  It clearly states in Genesis chapter three verse eighteen that after the fall of man that farming is the oldest occupation: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food….” There were no super markets back then; so everyone farmed.   Everyone had to sow and everyone had to harvest in order to eat, so that made first people farmers.

The passage in Matthew, which is also found in Luke ten, isn’t referring to a harvest of corn or soybeans, but to a harvest of souls; hurting, hungry lost and searching souls that are looking for the answers to life in all the wrong places. Listen to Jesus words from Matthew in verse thirty six,” When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.’”  And guess what happened next.   He sent them out to “heal every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 10:1b) and in Luke he told them to be “like lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:3).   He sent them with nothing so they wouldn’t depend on their jobs, or pastor or cell phone or good looking donkey to give them confidence or credibility, but God alone.   Jesus is God with skin on so he knows men’s hearts and it is a tough and ugly world out there, lots of wolves, but Jesus sent them out like lambs, humble, peaceful and sacrificial.  I would imagine at first they weren’t very good at it, but they had to begin where they were and so must we.

It is no different today, the harvest is still plentiful, and the workers are still few.   Many of us go to church to get our buckets refilled and be better folks, and we should.  But we must do more with what we get than just sit on it.  Just like the disciples we are called to go out as lambs among wolves and to heal every disease and sickness.   And I gotta just ask the question, “Why wouldn’t we?”  If we eat at a great new restaurant or see a movie we love or read a good book, we tell just about everyone we meet about it, might even post it on social media.  But when we put our faith and trust in Christ we tend to keep it to ourselves. Don’t want to rub anybody the wrong way. What’s up with that? Don’t we have compassion on the hurting, helpless and harassed crowds in our lives?  Do we hate our friends and neighbors and family members that much that we don’t care if they spend the rest of their lives lost and hurting or worse eternity in hell separated from not only us but the light of Christ?  Don’t we care enough to share the love, healing and light of Jesus Christ?    The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few.

I have come to the conclusion that the most important thing I do is to share what Christ has done and continues to do in my life with anyone who will listen, because I want to take as many people to heaven with me as I can. I use the attraction method.   I attempt to be the light by sharing what I have been freely given: love, forgiveness truth and grace and I try to do it right where I am whether I am in a grocery line, at a cross country meet, in my home, on the street, in the coffee shop or training a client.   I think that is what Christ meant here, go out and love where you are while depending on God, not stuff or self.  And like the old song says, “they will know we are Christians by our love.”  And here is my two cents; you can’t give away what you ain’t got.  It’s hard to love yourself in a healthy way if you don’t love God and you will never love your neighbor (not the nice one but the difficult one) if you don’t love God.

There are a lot of hurting folks just outside your front door and if you claim to follow Christ we must love on them, right now, today.  My experience has been when I love folks right where they are, offer to pray for and with them, bring up God in conversation and give my time to serve them I find they are receptive and eager to receive, staved for the truth really.   Rare is the person who turns me down when I offer to pray with them. But I have got to have the guts to offer.   Spiritual sickness is rampant and we must step outside our comfort zones and love, right where we are, there is no time to lose. Lives, earthy and eternal are depending on it.  

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

Be joy filled always, 

Christine Davis

Flood Waters

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“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has past. “ Psalms 57:1

“My God! In whom are all the springs of boundless love and grace unknown, hide me beneath Thy spreading wings, till the dark cloud is overblown.” Isaac Watts

Flood waters are coming this way.  Eight years ago our area was devastated by a flood of epic proportions and in the coming days our area is once again preparing for a big flood.  The odd thing is, our area hasn’t  had a lot of rain lately.  But the flood is coming. The poor souls who live north of us have had rain after rain after humongous rain and all that water has run off and into the local river and a big bunch of water is slowly moving our way.

My heart aches for those that have to live through this for the first time and for those who may be affected yet again.   That being said I must add that I love where we live!  Schools let their students out to help sand bag; farmers helped other farmers harvest river bottom crops; big box store parking lots are filled with portable storage units for folks to fill with their belongings. People help not only neighbors but total strangers and that is a beautiful thing.

Flood waters are coming this way. People are listening and obeying. Those in the projected flood zone are told to pack up and move out and secure their properties, and they are!   I remember watching on the news when other areas were affected by major water based disasters where folks turned on each other and looted and pillaged and didn’t get out!  Some added insult to injury and stole from their already hurting neighbors and then stayed behind and put others at risk to save them, which only made a horrible situation worse! 

We prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Sometimes our lives are devastated by the flood waters of this life and trouble of epic proportions such as: natural disasters, serious health diagnosis, tragic accidents, addiction, money problems, relationship problems, war, loss of loved ones, cruel treatment and more.  Trouble may flow out from somewhere other than where we are, and a big bunch of destruction sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly, moves our way.  And for some of us we add, again. 

My heart aches for those who are affected by cares for the first time and those who seem to yet again and again be hit by hardship and pain. That being said, I love where we live!   We live on a planet created by a loving God who sent his very own, only Son (His one and only Son), for the recovery of our souls. Do we really understand what a marvelous gift that is? He came so that  we can  be rescued from the storms of our lives.   Priceless. And that undeserved love is what keeps us, like baby chicks, under the safety of the Father’s wings, where there is shelter, and keeps us coming back for more and more refuge in the safety of His care and love. Listening and obeying keep us safe in the shadow of His wing.

It is God in us that draws us to help one another in time of crisis and to literally become the hands and feet of Christ to our neighbor who is hurting mentally, physically and spiritually.  Without Him in us we risk the likelihood of becoming like the looters and pillagers  towards others or worse we  become indifferent to the pain and suffering all around us.

Not good.

We prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Is God your first line of defense?   Or is He your last resort?

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis   

 

Paid in Full

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This image represents -God's forgiveness through Jesus Christ

“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Acts 2:21(NIV)

 I got a letter from a collection agency in the mail the other day.  Yes, I am talking about the deadbeat, don’t pay your bills kind of bill collector letters.  

 I was mortified. 

This particular bill was for an x-ray reading way back in April for sixteen dollars and fifty cents.   The bill had come, and I had mailed them the check, on time. I thought my debt was paid.  But for four months each time I balanced my bank statement, that check came up as outstanding and I would think to myself, “I wonder why they haven’t cashed that?”   It never once crossed my mind to take responsibility for the situation, pull out the original bill, give them a call and ask them if they had received it. ” I mistakenly thought my debt was paid.

Last Thursday the letter from the collection agency showed up in the mail and I was angry and indignant.   Why on earth would they send this tiny debt to collections without sending another bill or at least call me?    I pulled out the only bill I ever got and while I was reading it over, I noticed a red box at the bottom of the page that said, “This will be the only bill you receive.” Oh.   Of course, that was just fuel for the fire in my mind, I thought “the cheapskates, they can’t send me another bill, but will spend a small fortune on a bill collector, for a measly sixteen fifty.”  Lord.

I took a deep breath and called the number and when I finally got a person in the billing department,  I greeted her politely and opened with, “I am angry, but I am not angry at you.”   I explained the circumstances and how offended I was at receiving the letter, and asked why on earth they didn’t just bill me again.   Can’t you just hear her thoughts? “Yeah right, I have heard that all before”.  She politely explained that if a bill is under a certain amount they only send one statement, like my bill said. “She told me I had thirty days to pay the bill, and it wouldn’t affect my credit rating. She gave me the address to mail the check.    

When I hung up the phone, that still, small voice in my head told me the truth I didn’t want to hear, “ Quit trying to justify your actions, you incurred the debt, you are responsible for paying the bill.”

 I mailed the second check that day and I will call next week to confirm they got it.

There is no free lunch. On this earth I have incurred debt, there are things that I have done that  make me responsible for paying the bill.  Things that have separated me from God and one day my bill will come due. I have heard the good news of what I must do to receive salvation, and it is pretty simple.  I have read the fine print. And yet, day by day, month by month, year by year, my payment remained outstanding. I thought foolishly, “It can’t be that simple.”  I believed that I had sent the check, thinking that because I was good person, because I help others, and because I haven’t done anything too terrible that my debt was paid, right?   That covers my sin, right?

Wrong. The truth is I can’t pay my debt; I can’t earn my way into heaven.  Let me repeat that very important truth, I can’t earn my way into heaven.  For the longest time my debt was still outstanding because I believed that lie.  Being nice just doesn’t cut it; there are plenty of nice atheists who do good deeds.   What does make the difference?  What pays the bill? 

The good news is (Gospel means good news), and this is really, really good news:   There is someone who has already paid my bill in full for me. His name is Jesus Christ and he has paid it on the cross with his blood and his life.   The only thing I need to do is to receive the gift free of charge.   Funny thing is, the hardest part is accepting the simple faith and belief that that’s all there is to it!

Yup, it’s just that simple. Believe and receive so when the bill collector, the Lord of Light and not the Grim Reaper, comes at the end of my life my bill will be stamped, paid in full.   

Who will pay your debt? Will you be mortified, angry and indignant when you find out you still owe for your debt?  Or will Christ have you covered?

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis