Ghosts

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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 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