Monkey See, Monkey Do

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A standard rule of parenting is, “Do as I say.”   Obedience is one the most important things a parent can teach a child.  But by far the most important standard of parenting is, “Do as I do.”  What parents do while their children are watching is far more important than anything, they tell the child to do because actions speak a far louder volume than words.  Saying one thing and doing another is hypocrisy. Teaching a child to obey what you say and living out the very things you ask of your child are two very completely different things. One teaches your child you are good for your word. The other does not.

Why does this matter you may ask? Because other people and the world have a profound influence on us and the choices we make. Growing up, when asked by my father why I had done something, and usually it was something stupid, often my reply was, “Because so and so was doing it.”  His response was nearly always, “Monkey see, monkey do.  If they jumped off a bridge would you jump off too?”  Bet you’ve never heard that before, or said it yourself.  Roll of the eyes. But Dad was right, other people have a powerful influence on the choices we make.  The most influential people in a child’s life are typically are parents first and foremost, then siblings, other close relatives, classmates, teachers, the culture we live in, our coworkers and spouses.  Did I trust my father and mother, absolutely.  Why?  Because I knew them,  and because the large majority of the time, they did what they said and asked of me.   Did I obey them?  Some of the time. Did I watch how they lived their lives, you bet I did.

In addition to being influenced, we are also influencers.  I watched my parents and my kids watched me. We don’t live life in a vacuum and we are constantly watching others and others are constantly watching us.  Let that penetrate your mind and heart for a minute or two. In that case, we better get it right on both sides of the aisle, because this is powerful, life-changing stuff.  With potential for both for good and for bad.

At first, as a young adult I was a real moron.  I promptly went out and did exactly the opposite of what I was supposed to do.   Because that is what we humans do. We rebel. We cannot escape it because rebellion is hard wired in our DNA.  And there is a name for it, sin.  And the result of my willful disobedience was to promptly fall flat on my face, because in the end you cannot escape the entailments of sin.  The good news is my parent’s legacy of faith they instilled and modeled to me and had a lasting effect and I had it to come back to when life became unmanageable.  Why does this matter?   Not because it makes anyone holier than thou, but because it’s not enough just to believe God exists.  Christianity is no theory; it must be lived. And it requires obedience, obedience that Jesus himself modeled for us.

A standard rule of being a child of God is doing as he says and more importantly as he does.  What he says and has already done is given to us in his Word, the Holy Bible.  Obedience is one the most important aspects being a follower of Jesus Christ. Christ is to be trusted first and obeyed next; we can’t be hearers of his Word only; we must be doers as well.  In the here and now. Here and now I have to pray for my enemies; bless those who curse me; deny my own selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed wants, need and desires and do what he calls me to do.   To be humble, not a bragger. Serve others and share what I have received. Monkey see, monkey do. Jesus promised me (and all who desire relationship with him) if we seek him, we will find him. And he will give to us his Holy Spirit to live in us when we make him Lord of our life to aid us in being transformed into his likeness.  Cause I. Can’t. In. And. Of. Myself.  Self-reliance will fail me every time. Obedience coupled with the Spirits aid never fails.

Obedience is not a great recruiting slogan, but it is life changing if and when you decide to surrender to him.  It shocks me how few Christians actually read and study the Bible on a regular basis in order to know God and his will for us. Far too many rely on the “cherry picking method” finding verses to suit our needs, rather than to step into the knowledge of the whole God story.   And therefore, I am not surprised at how many folks are misinformed and uninformed about what it actually says.  And does in us, when we give ourselves over to it’s truth.  Take for instance the common phrase “the angry God of the Old Testament.”  That’s not at all what I or many other well-respected scholars and theologians down through the ages read and see. (I am certainly not either a scholar or theologian, just in agreement with them).  God sets the standard for doing what he says he will do and being who he says he is.  What the Word tells us of is a loving, grace filled, slow to anger Creator God of second chances who lays out clear boundaries for those created in his image (that is you and me), who isn’t afraid to follow through with consequences and discipline, even when its hard and we don’t agree with it or like it. I also see the human race is a pack of mistake making, rebellious people he keeps loving,  so much so he shed his precious only Son’s blood to save. 

Because actions speak a far louder volume than words.  

Monkey see. Monkey do.    

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

Tempus Fugit (Time Flies)

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We have several wind-up clocks in our home; two floor clocks and one wall clock.   I have grown to depend upon the soft tick-tock of the wall clock, the chimes of the floor clocks throughout the hour and the strikes telling me the hour. These are sounds which help me mark time throughout the day. On the face of one of the floor clocks are the words Tempus Fugit, which are Latin for time flies, and it sure does. Tick, tick, tick.

We just crossed into a New Year and decade.  Seems like it was just yesterday we turned the page on a new century; that was twenty years ago.   Remember all the Y2K Chicken Little “the sky is falling” hype?   Being the cornball, I am, this year I had fun saying, “I will see you more clearly next year in 2020.” Get it?  Nudge, nudge, 2020 is perfect vision… drum-roll, kaboom. Seriously, as a kid way back when, 2020 seemed like a distant dream and boom!  Here we are and I am nearly threescore years old.  If you don’t know how old that makes me, you’ll just have to look it up.  Tick, tick, tick.

All kidding aside, whether or not we recognize it, time is one of our most precious commodities.  Like money, I only get to spend it once. Unlike like money, I can’t earn more time. I am ashamed to admit I have spent some of my time coins pretty poorly.   There has been time squandered on activities like drunkenness and gossip and debaucherous behavior, I must admit I was wicked when I was young. And then there is wasted and lost time; time I could have and should have spent better loving on family and friends and pointing others to Jesus. Then there is the worthless time I have frittered away surfing the net or thinking badly, okay, I’ll say it, hating others in my mind and heart.  I must admit that I wish in many ways I could have a do over.   But that is just not in the cards for days gone by.  Tick, tick, tick.

The good news is that each and every day that I wake up I get the opportunity for a do over.  A chance to spend my time on the things that matter most, that is, if that is what I want to do. Which involve loving God first and people next.  When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus (God with skin on) said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all you mind and all your soul. And to love your neighbor as yourself. That all the prophets and the law hung and these.  Tick, tick, tick.

For some reason, the last half of my tank of gas in my vehicle goes faster than the first.  From what I have experienced so far,  I believe this to be true for my ride through life as well.  Perhaps, I would do well to do what He who spoke Creation in to being suggests.  

Love God with all that I am and love my neighbor the way I would want my neighbor to love me.  Tick, tick, tick.

Because, time, after all, truly does fly.

Be joy filled always, 

Christine Davis

 

Get Well Soon

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I just wanted to get well soon, I hadn’t been this sick and tired in a quite some time. One day I had been feeling just fine and the next day BOOM!  Some tiny microscopic bug had invaded the cells of my body and wreaked havoc with my gastrointestinal system.

As I was convalescing, I pondered the power of this awful microorganism to could infect such misery.  I couldn’t see it; it was invisible to the eye and yet it carried incredible power.  As I read about this particular virus I learned it is highly contagious and the best defense is a good offense. Stay home and keep my germs to myself. Wash my hands thoroughly.  Feed myself simple foods. Drink plenty of water so as to not become dehydrated.

Eventually, in the fullness of time my body did what it was designed to do, it healed.

In John Chapter five we come across a most interesting story and situation.  Jesus is in Jerusalem and near the healing pool of Bethesda (the famous hospital is named for this very place mentioned in scripture).  Here were a lot of very sick and disabled people and Jesus encounters a particular thirty-eight-year-old invalid.   And when Jesus saw him, he does what Jesus is famous for doing, he asks him what may seem to be an obvious question.   “Do you want to get well?”  Duh Jesus, of course he wants to get well or he wouldn’t be there, right?   But the lame man’s response was not, “You’re darn straight I do!”   Or “Heck yeah!”   His response was some lame (pun intended) excuse why he couldn’t get into the pool to get well. Then Jesus tells him to participate in the process, to take up his bed and walk.

He had to choose.  He could stay where he was, stuck in his identity as an invalid.  Or he could get well.  And the same holds true with getting well spiritually, we have to choose to turn to God in our lives, of our own free will.  Or we can stay stuck in our identity as sinners and therefore enemies of God.  And although it is not at all what he wants for us, if we don’t choose to be in right relationship with him in our lives, he is not going to force us. 

I have always been confused by these words in the Bible, “And God hardened Pharaoh’s (or some other person’s) heart.”   It was unfathomable to me God would do that, until last Monday when it finally dawned on me. God doesn’t do it.  Having a hard heart is a choice. Some people are  never NOT going to be offended, angry or resentful at God, they simply just do not want him in their lives, much less to bow down to him as Lord of their lives.   The very idea of God hardens their hearts.  Hearts aren’t made hard by God reaching down and turning them to stone.  Hard hearts are something each one of us chooses or doesn’t choose to have. Either it’s our identity or it isn’t. Pharaoh’ heart became hard by refusing to trust in and obey God.  Which never ends well.   Pharaoh’s rejection of God to do things his own way brought suffering, pain and death to many innocent people.  One man’s choice affects and infects so very many others.  And when I have hardened my heart to God in my life, like a nasty contagious virus it affects countless others, spreading along, invisible to the naked eye.   

Josef Stalin’s daughter told a news reporter that on his deathbed the communist leader died shaking his fist at heaven.   Still mad at God, even after his hard heart had forced oppression on his people and ordered millions and millions of his own countrymen killed, in peacetime no less. The Bible tells us Pharaoh acted much in the same way.

Sin is similar to germs in that is a microscopic bug capable of invading the minds and hearts of human beings wreaking havoc. As I ponder the power of the awful microorganism of sin (separation from God), it is clear this disease inflicts deep misery.  As I read about this virus of the soul, I observe it is highly contagious and the best defense is good offense. Stay home (with God) and keep my sin to myself. Wash my heart and soul thoroughly with the blood of Jesus Christ.   Feed myself on the bread of life which is Christ and the truth found in the Word of God. Drink plenty of Christ’s living water in the fellowship of believers so my spirit doesn’t become dehydrated and my heart hard.

Take up my bed and walk, by choosing God, turning from my sin in repentance and returning to God through his one and only Son Jesus Christ. And eventually, in the fullness of time, my soul will do what it was designed to do.  Heal.

 Get well soon and

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

People of the Light

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Last week we had six straight days of clouds and no sunshine. It was hard on people.  I’ll admit I am not a fan of the shorter days we are blessed with during the last days of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.  Add to this fact six consecutive, cloudy, dreary days in a row and it was particularly trying.  I am not complaining, just stating the grim facts.  These short dark days can be difficult to navigate anyhow for a multitude of reasons.  Add cloud cover for days on end we humans can get crabby and discouraged, spirits flag.  We may know in our heads the sun is behind those clouds, but tell it to our souls!  

Then came the morning of the seventh day, I woke to bright, brilliant sunlight penetrating every crack and crevice and my spirit rejoiced at the sight.  We are people of the light by design.

In the opening lines in the first chapter of Genesis, sometime after God created the heavens and the earth, we are told his Spirit hovered over the darkness of a formless and completely empty earth and then this happened:

3 “God said let there be light; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Dropping down the chapter we are told in verse twenty-seven that we human beings are created in God’s image.

Pondering again and again these words I have made several observations.  The first is God himself is light, and it is his presence that brought light to the darkness that covered the formless and void earth. The second being the verification of observation number one in the Gospel of John where the author describes Jesus as the one doing the creating with God in the beginning. Chapter one says, “3 All things were made by him. 4 In him was life and the life was the light of men.”  The third item of note is John spoke eyeball to eyeball with Jesus both before and after Jesus death and resurrection so this is eyewitness testimony from God himself.  Fourth, the Word of God has been the most scrutinized piece of sacred literature of all time by historians, scholars and theologians, standing the test time and is therefore a trustworthy document. My final observation is what I have seen the light of Christ do not only in my own life but in the lives of countless friends and family, and millions of lives documented down through the ages.

Here is what I am driving at, the inevitable dark days of life can be difficult to navigate for a multitude of reasons. Add to that fact sometimes the light of God’s presence may seem obscured by struggle, pain, evil, suffering and injustice. We humans can get crabby and discouraged, spirits may flag.  We may know in our heads the Son who is the Light of the world is  our fortress, refuge and strength behind those clouds of trouble, but tell that to our souls!  

Then came the morning of the seventh day.  The stone was rolled away, sin, death and darkness were conquered. We awake reassured with the sure knowledge of the hope and promise the Light of Christ who is  the light of men and the world will illuminate the darkness that has clouded our way.  His light will, if we trust in him, penetrate every crack and crevice in all lives choosing to open the door to their hearts. The God willing to not only dwell with – Emmanuel- but in the very people created in his light filled image.

We are people of the light by design.  Which gives us great cause to not only be light filled but to also:

 Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

Holding On

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There are times I hold on too long.
After taking a recent inventory of the shoes in my closet I came across several pair I hadn’t worn in years.
I hadn’t stopped wearing them because I didn’t like them, or because they were no longer fashionable. I hadn’t worn them because they no longer fit. I knew this, but I hung onto them anyway. And just one more time, I had to try them on, as if something magically changed. Nothing had. After just a step or two, what I already knew to be true was once again confirmed. They didn’t fit. The old friends who had carried me through a particular time of my life were too painful to wear. My feet were never again going to comfortably wear the shoes I had hung on, and hung on, and hung on to. They were never, ever going fit again. And this day I decided to let them go.
Recently after taking an inventory of my sins, habits and defects of character, I came across a few I hadn’t worn in years. I didn’t stop wearing them because I quit liking them or because they were no longer fashionable. I quit wearing them because they no longer fit. I knew this but I was still holding on to a few of them anyway. Take for instance blame, which used to be a nice comfortable place to sink my feet. Many of these old friends (who were really enemies) had carried me faithfully through a particular time in life are now too painful to wear. Comfortable old companions such as fear, self-pity, denial, grudge holding, negative thinking, resentment, gossip, self-reliance, unforgiveness and the like no longer fit because I, like my old lady feet have changed. I have changed because I have decided to follow Christ. Which is no easy task. He says in order to follow him I must deny myself and take up my cross daily. What kind of a recruiting slogan is that? Although I hadn’t worn these old behaviors as much as used to, I was still holding on to a few.  And as comfortable as the old habits may feel, Jesus demands they must go and I must become a new creation that resembles him. And while that sounds good on paper, an honest appraisal of my inner self reveals a part of me wants to hold on and just one last time, try them on, as if something magically changed and they will still work in my life. And the very good news is something has changed and those old ways no longer fit! After just a step or two, what I already knew to be true is confirmed, I am never going to comfortably wear them again.
Wearing rebellion and sin, made me an enemy of God. But the good news is I was bought at a price. God counted the cost of bringing me (and you) back into right relationship with him and found us worth the very high price. The price of his only Son’s life.  Let that sink in for a moment. To accept him and his truth on his terms instead of mine, is to quit holding on, and holding on and holding on to the things that no longer fit.
And letting go is a great reason to:
Be joy filled always,
Christine Davis

Ghosts

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As a kid I loved Halloween.   Are you kidding?  What is there not to love? I would dress up in a sheet with eye holes cut out and roam from house to house collecting free candy! When I grew too tall to collect candy, I switched to scaring myself silly by going to haunted houses and watching creepy movies.  What is it about ghosts and death that both fascinates and unnerves us? 

Halloween was originally known as All Hallows Eve and it takes root out of the Christian Church from around the eighth century in England. The day after Halloween is All Saints Day, 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 by some denominations 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 (November 2nd) is All Souls Day, the day to pray for those who will die in the next year and become saints. 

The night before All Saints Day was called All Hallows Eve (we know it as Halloween) or night of the dead and it was (is?) 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.

Costumes and beggar’s night or not, it is still a good idea to remind others salvation is still available to them and not to end up lost for now and or all of eternity. And it is a good idea as well not to wait until it is too late.   Like it or not, death comes to us all.

It is also important to understand this truth. Death wasn’t the original plan. It was a choice made out of the gift (and curse) of free will.  And life also is a choice made out of free will.   

In our modern world few still recognize All Hallows Eve in its original form, but most Americans celebrate it in its full-blown, 9.1-million-dollar commercial form. As far away as we may be from the of the night of the dead in our post truth world, it doesn’t mean that we, the living, don’t have ghosts that haunt us.  I am not talking about the spooky kind we see in the movies that make our hair stand on end that we associate with disembodied spirits, but the more insidious kind, the kind that can kill our joy in this life.  The ghosts of our past, present and future. The ghosts that remind us of the things we may have done, or left undone.  Said, or left unsaid.  Of the things we regret. Or fear. The choices we have made and things that have happened.   These are the ghosts that haunt our days and nights and that can keep us shackled in chains for far too much of our living.

The evil set loose on the day man fell from grace and brought death into the world opened a Pandora’s Box and the ghosts of the fateful day in Genesis visit each and every human life. 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 and destructive.   And we all have them.  

Where is our hope to be found?  Where do we get peace of heart, mind and soul? Where do we find relief from the ghosts living within us?   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.

Our hope and relief from these ghosts is found only in the one who has the power to overcome death. The one who gives life. In Jesus Christ.  He lived.  He died. He rose from the dead and conquered sin (ghosts) and death for all who choose to believe.

This All Hallows Eve my prayer for you and for me, my friends, is that each one of us make the decision to receive the power from the only One that can and will set us free from all of all ghosts for all time.

Be joy filled always,

  Christine Davis

A Matter of Life and Death!

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Not long ago we experienced our first killing frost of the season.  I am no green thumb, that is my farmer husband, but I do enjoy a small amount of flower and vegetable gardening.  No two growing seasons are ever the same as any farmer and gardener will attest, and this  year has been particularly challenging for both farmer and gardener.  My flower garden flourished.  My vegetable garden rode the struggle bus most of the summer, finally producing a sad little harvest in September.

I consider myself fortunate to live life on a farm, Jay once said one of the best benefits of farming is that you get to be outside and I would add farmers and their families are deeply connected to not only the earth itself but the cycle of life and death.

Growing up on a farm I quickly learned that death and life are woven together.  Over the years I have joyously discovered new batches of kittens in the feed trough of the barn, or woke to discover a newborn colt or calf in the pasture.  The inevitable flip side is I have lost many a farm animal and beloved pet to death. Some to old age, some to the butcher (sorry my vegetarian readers), and some to the road and other such sad endings.

We are primarily grain farmers, which involves planting seeds in the spring and harvesting in the fall.  In order to harvest, the plant itself must die to produce the grain, which is essentially a seed, after its own kind.   Although we don’t grow our crops for seed, grain that falls to the ground during harvest typically sprouts a plant and grows in the spring. Which is simply amazing if you stop and consider the fact. Especially taking into account how harsh and cold winter conditions can be some years.  It blows my mind that come spring, the resurrection power of new life bursts forth as the light of the sun makes its way back.

It not surprising that the earth is full of death and resurrection. However, death wasn’t the original plan, life was.  God gave us the choice to choose life or death and we who were created in his image chose death by buying the lie we could (can) discern what is good and what is evil through knowledge. The choice was, and still is, in a literal sense, a matter of life and death!

The good news (that is what the word gospel means, good news) is we weren’t abandoned to the consequences of our choices. The Living God of mercy and justice implemented his plan of redemption the moment we fell on our own sword.

The rescue plan would involve a long journey back, with the whole earth reflecting the method He would use and what we must choose – the power of resurrection life. In order for a resurrection to occur there must be a death.   For those who choose Jesus as their Lord and Savior and Christianity as their worldview, the choice is was and for ever will be, mirroring what Jesus did those three days which are forever seared into human history. We must believe he died and rose from the dead.   And then we too must die and rise again. We must die to our own selfish ambitions and rise in new life joined with him.  And we don’t have to wait to be joined with him until our human bodies die. We are made new creations from the moment we say YES! I believe! And Yes!  Jesus will be Lord of my life, and Yes! I will follow and obey Jesus as the King above all kings!  Under the waters of Christian baptism, we choose to show the world like Christ we will die and like Christ we will rise up out of the water to new life. The old is gone. The new has come. New life bursts forth as the light of the Son of God makes His way back into the darkness of a lost and wandering human soul.

So if anyone is in Christ, there a new creation, everything old has passed away, see, everything has become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV

This my dear friends gives us every reason to:

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

The Diet Starts Tomorrow

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Change reads easy, lives hard.

I am a fitness professional by trade. I own and operate a business whose primary purpose is to guide individuals into a fitness lifestyle.  Folks have hired my services for many reasons, here is the short list: Need or want to lose weight; feel flabby and want to firm up; need to look better for a particular event; doctor said they must eat right and exercise for various reasons including but not limited to brittle bones; high blood pressure; elevated cholesterol or blood sugars etcetera. My personal favorite is because being healthy is cheaper than a nursing home.

Every client I have ever had has been fired up in the early phases of my program, the only exception being when someone else pressured them to be there. But nearly all who made the decision to seek my expertise, at some point, get to where the bloom is off the rose and  realize being healthy takes hard work and discipline. One client asked, “Do I have to think about eating right and exercising all the time?” I think, dear readers, you know what my reply was.

Taking care of our bodies is hard work and requires devotion and self-sacrifice for the long haul. It is a marathon, not a sprint. I like to tell people certain healthy habits must become as much a part of your daily round as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Unless, of course you don’t shower or brush your teeth daily.  I remember one of our daughters’ middle school friends who happened to stay the night, proudly proclaimed she hadn’t brushed her teeth in seventeen days. Ugh. Hopefully, she changed her mind about that.

 It was Ben Franklin who quipped, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And it is especially true when it comes to your health. What and how we eat is what the word diet actually means instead of something we go on. Which implies, by the way, that we will go off  at some point. What most fail to understand is whatever plan you choose, and most all of them work, only works as long as you keep at it.  In other words, eating healthy works when you work it and it doesn’t when you don’t.  Oftentimes we start strong and trip up when temptation comes our way or get over busy and fall prey to the “what the heck” thinking and throw in the towel.   Others never really buy into the eating/exercise plan itself or modify it, taking only the parts that aren’t too hard skipping the difficult parts. And then wonder why it doesn’t work.  

And let me be clear, once a person gets to where they want to be, they must keep doing what they have been doing to keep getting what they have been getting or they will end up right back where they were before, or worse. And sometimes we want to eat better and exercise, just not today.  The diet starts tomorrow, but the sad truth is tomorrow never comes. 

Change is hard. I get that. But, in these moments I sometimes pose this question, “If you are going to do what you want, why do you need me? “It’s as though instead of conforming to a new fitness lifestyle, some want to conform the fitness lifestyle to them. Never works; never has never will.

Living a new life in Jesus Christ reads easy, lives hard.

Jesus Christ is a New Life professional. His primary purpose is to save lost souls and lead them back into right relationship with God. Folks seek his services for a number of reasons here’s the short list:  Made a wreck of their life; life has made of a wreck of them;  have hurt others; have been hurt by other humans; experienced  suffering, loss or devastation; nothing else fills the bottomless pit of a hole in the soul and etcetera. My personal favorite is He gives me what I don’t deserve, grace, truth and forgiveness.

Nearly every new believer or follower of Christ are fired up at the beginning of their new life in Christ, I know I was, the only exception being when someone else pressured them to come to Him.  But nearly all who made the decision to seek his expertise, at some point, get to a place where the bloom is off the rose as they realize that following Jesus takes self-sacrifice of losing our own will and the daily discipline of continuing to seek His will.  At one point I remember asking the Lord, “Do I need to pray, read the Bible and do what you want me to everyday day for the rest of my life?”   I think, dear readers, you know what his reply was.

Taking care of our souls and transforming them into the image of Christ is hard work and requires devotions and self-sacrifice for the long haul. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Jesus reminds us soul healthy habits must become as much of our daily round as brushing our teeth or taking a shower.  I have talked with many “followers of Jesus” who haven’t taken time to pray or crack open God’s Word in years and years if ever. Ugh.  Hopefully, they have or will change their minds about that.

It was the Creator of the Universe who slipped on human skin and declared, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoseover believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”  Who and how we fill ourselves is not just something we do once a week and check off the list.  It must become a lifestyle of a developing personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, whose Holy Spirit fills the hole in our soul and gives us the will and the power to transform into the image of Christ.  Which is the goal, by the way.  What most fail to understand is faith only works as long as you keep at it.  In other words, following Jesus only works when you follow Him and it doesn’t when you don’t.  Oftentimes we start strong and trip up when temptation comes our way or get over busy and fall prey to the “what the heck” thinking and throw in the towel.   Others never really buy into the Good News of Jesus Christ itself or modify it, taking only the parts that aren’t too hard skipping the difficult parts. And then wonder why Christianity doesn’t work for them.  

And let me be clear, and here is the rub, it is hard work loving your enemies, being humble, keeping my tongue bridled and not repaying evil for evil. Of myself I could never do any of this. I must first receive it as a free gift by accepting that Jesus is who he says he is (Lord of all) and that he rose from the dead and forgives me for all the rotten junk I have done.  You see if you don’t want him in this life, he won’t force you to have him in the next, it is our choice because love by compulsion isn’t love.  In addition, if I don’t keep doing the daily deal of seeking his will, talking and listening to His Voice and knowing what His Voice sounds like by studying his Word, I will go back to being the sick chick I used to be.  And the truth in my life and the evidence down through history is that sometimes I think I want to do what God says, just not today.  The spiritual diet starts tomorrow. I’ll give up being judgmental or gossiping, tomorrow.  But the sad truth is all too often tomorrow never comes.

Change is hard. I get that. But, in these moments Jesus sometimes poses this most difficult question, “Why do you call me Lord and not do what I say? “It’s as though instead of recognizing we are created in God’s image; we want to create God in our image.

 Never works; never has, never will.

Because, as God reminds us,” My ways are not your ways.”

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

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I don’t feel old.  At least not most days.  This weekend was my fortieth high school class reunion and it seems like just yesterday I was setting the numbers 4-0 on the forty-year class table for the “old folks” at the Alumni Banquet.  I suppose this officially makes me old.  But not older.  Earlier this week at the State Fair they had older folks’ day, where you got in for nine bucks instead of twelve if you were  sixty years and above, I gladly doled out the extra dough because I was just old, but not older.

We had a great time with those who attended the reunion events throughout the weekend. Some traveled a great distance to join in memory sharing.  One gal had just lost her husband to cancer just the week before, but he had insisted on his deathbed she not cancel her trip, so we loved on her a little extra. 

Here’s a great surprise!  None of us look the same as our senior photos in the year book! Can you believe it? Our hair has changed: color, style and even quantity, imagine that. And you’ll never believe it, our bodies have changed, in ways I will leave to your imagination. Some of you who qualify for being old or older know what I mean.

We have changed.

To which I would add, Thank. The. Lord. 

It was a terrific weekend.  Events were planned around our little hometown annual celebration, which is always a first-class event, I might add.  We had a float in the parade, toured the school which has changed enormously. We met at a friend’s cabin for food and conversation late Saturday afternoon and then at her home for breakfast on Sunday morning.  In addition, we had the option of attending the evening events uptown to see and mingle with other local folks over the course of the weekend.

One of my classmates attends the same house of worship I do, and asked me which service I planned to attend this particular weekend, and I said the Saturday night and he asked, “Aren’t you going uptown later?”

To which I replied, “Nope, that person is dead.”

To which I would add, Thank. The. Lord.

High School was not the best time of my life.   I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hated it, but it was a time in my life that I really had no clue who I was.   I remember I couldn’t wait to get to town for the annual celebration or just about any event because I was desperate to have someone else validate my identity.  I just wanted one best friend and one boy to just love me forever. But I went about looking in all the wrong places and in wrong ways.  I was imitating others, who, I would venture to guess, were looking for the same things I was in a similar fashion.  In a sense, in some ways, we became the blind leading the blind.  There were the usual groups of kids you find in school, the “popular crowd”, the athletes, the good students and so forth. And I would find my self looking to others in an attempt figure out who I was.  Which didn’t work out so well, because I was supposed to be me not them.   I made a lot of bad choices and trouble for myself along the way and I know I hurt other innocent folks as I roared through life looking for love in all the wrong places.  I was kind of like the wicked old step mother in Snow White asking, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” and then I would try to be like that person.

Until I met my BFF (best friend forever) and man of my dreams.  Jesus Christ, who was and is and always be the only solution for the world’s problems, not just mine.  And whom, if I choose to follow, I should take my identity in. When I did what he suggested and died to myself, which what going under the waters of baptism represents, I became a new creation in Him, which is what coming up out of the waters of baptism signifies.  That is when I stopped looking to the created and to the Creator to define me.  Which works a whole lot better since He made me.

Today, I take my identity in him.   Not in what you think of me (which is none of my business, by the way) or  my lame attempt to be you.  The old me is dead and buried, and the hole in my soul  I tried to fill with everyone and everything filled with and by Him!

Thank. The. Lord.

Fun to remember the good old days, better yet to have them in the rear-view mirror.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all? 

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

In God We Trust

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Bandit the dog has a wonderful life and he trusts his master, that’s me.  He is free to roam within the boundaries I have set in our yard using a wireless remote containment system. This invisible force keeps him from becoming roadkill on the highway in front of our farm.  Mr. Bandit wears a collar that emits a beep if he gets within ten yards of the boundary.  If he goes beyond that, he gets a shock; which has only occurred once during his training.  At that time, we set up flags and walked the boundary lines with him and when he passed out of the safe zone and got shocked, we brought him back to safety. He quickly learned the flags and the sound were a signal of danger. He could have ignored the boundary and run through the invisible barrier, all the while being shocked, but he didn’t. After two weeks we removed the flags because he understood the beep means stop. Bandit enjoys freedom with limits. What he doesn’t do is spend his day fretting and stewing because he can’t go “over there.”  Or he doesn’t doubt whether I love him less because I place limits on his freedom. He never worries that I will abandon him, not feed him or provide him a with a home.   He trusts me.

 I must admit I have no doubt there are times he may wish I would move faster when I don’t feed him right away or take him on his morning walk on his timetable. But in those moments what he does do is stay a little closer by my side and follow me around while patiently waiting. He trusts in me because he knows me, I have proven I am trustworthy. And I love him.

Christine the human being trusts her Master, that’s God.  I have a wonderful life! I am free to roam within the boundaries God has set for me in the world.  He uses an invisible, and enforceable only by choice, containment system found in his Word (The Bible). Which, if I choose to trust in will keep me from becoming roadkill on the highway of life.  When I study it, the truth it contains and the message of salvation become the boundary flags and warning signals for navigating this complex thing we call life, both this life and the next. But we are only saved if we choose to place our trust in God through Jesus Christ.

I have the option to and have ignored the warning flags and signals and been shocked, sometimes badly, in and by life.  My Master walks the fence line beside me and rescues me if I choose to let him. And there were times that I must admit I didn’t choose to roll with the “God is really in charge of everything” plan.   I wanted to trust in myself mostly, but nearly anything but God.  

Please allow me to clarify.   I have always believed in God. However, I have come to understand it is one thing to believe in God and is altogether another thing to trust God.  Let’s face facts here.  I was being “shocked” because I wasn’t trusting God and what He says is true.

Where did I get the impression God says things with a wink, a nod and his fingers crossed behind his back? That old fibber fear is the root of my trust issues. Why do I struggle trusting other people to God’s care and provision? Or trusting God with my finances or trusting him with my past and my future or with other humans’ opinions of me and many, many other things?  Jesus Christ and God’s Word both warn me fear is a big fat lie which has robbed me of so much living. Eventually, literally by the grace of God, and by placing my trust in him, I learned the thoughts, temptations and behaviors which are warning signals of danger he warned me to avoid. I enjoy freedom with limits. What I no longer do is spend my days fretting and stewing because I can’t go “over there.”  Or doubting he loves me less because he placed limits on my freedom.  I don’t worry that he will abandon me, or not care and provide for me.

I have let me down. Other people have let me down.  God has never let me down. And here is an uncomfortable reality, my greatest growth has come through suffering and pain and my greatest suffering has come through too much pleasure.   If I stop and look at God’s track record in my own life, I must conclude He has never failed me, that he is good for his Word and completely trustworthy!!   Running the universe is a big job he does so well!   The sun rises and sets each day, the earth rotates on its axis and so on and so forth, without our assistance folks, and the evidence he is trustworthy is all around us! As the Apostle Paul said in Romans so that we are without excuse!

 Our national motto is in God we Trust, but truth be told I believe that very few people really do trust Him! And that statement makes me incredibly sad. I think far too many folks believe he is some far distant disinterested being, malevolently watching us from afar. Rolling his eyes and laughing at us as we muddle through life instead of the God who is a close, caring companion.  I used to, but I don’t anymore, buy that lie for a single second, not because I embrace some blind, mindless faith, but because of the amount of evidence! Not only the evidence of his work in my life but the proof all around me and throughout history. And from what I have seen, many people of faith are stuck where I used to be, trusting more in themselves, other people, leaders, governments and money than they trust God.  But we are in good company! even Jesus closest companions at first, didn’t trust he could calm their storms, and they could reach out and touch God wearing skin!!  Doubt is normal for us finite creatures. But the disciples lack of trust was temporary, as should ours be.  The more we get to know his nature, character and trustworthiness through his Word and actions in our lives, the more we can recognize him in the world around us. Which builds our trust.

Today I know if I choose to stay close to him; he will act in his time and his way which is always the right time and way and guide me along the journey he has set out for me. Which may not be easy or comfortable.  He never hid the facts that if I follow him, I too would have a cross to bear, and a crown to wear in that order.  I must admit that there are times I become impatient when he doesn’t answer my prayers right away or on my timetable or in the way I want him to. But in those moments what I have learned to do is to stay a little closer by His side, waiting patiently and trusting. Because he is trustworthy. And he loves me.  And he loves you too.

In God we trust.

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis