…Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Hebrews 12:1b-2a
When you get sick, and sad, and weary of God’s people, turn your thoughts to God Himself; and if ever you see any spots in the Church, Christ’s bride, look at her glorious Husband, and you will only love Him the more as you think of His wondrous condescension in having loved such a poor thing as His Church is even at her best.
C. H. Spurgeon
Back in the days of my atheism, I had a ridiculous habit. OK, I had several ridiculous habits, but one of the silliest was a tendency to judge Christianity by Christians.
This, of course, is foolish; akin to judging the entire field of theoretical physics by the mathematical expertise of the world’s preschool students.
If you want to rightly assess Christianity, the Person to examine is Yeshua Messiah, aka Jesus Christ. He is the one who set the standard. His Church are the ones learning how to live up to it – one computational error at a time.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”
1 Kings 17:12
Y’all, it’s getting real here in the Davis household. COVID Madness has infected certain companies, leading those who run them to fretfulness.
And a fretful company is not a good thing. They start searching for heavy things to pitch overboard to keep the thing floating high above the waves.
Thus, yours truly is officially back in the workforce, this time serving in a very different role than the recent short-term positions. All things considered, I’m grateful to be helping a litttle with the family income – especially in the middle of COVID Madness.
An older, less experienced me would be pretty darn nervous right now. Instead, the present me is pondering the many things I’ve written in my Ebenezer Journal (aka – my journal reminding me, “Thus far, the Lord has helped us.” See 1 Samuel 7:12 if you need a reminder.)
I need those reminders sometimes. Especially when large bills loom and small numbers cower before them.
But thus far, the Lord has helped us. And you know what? He has already taken our tiny little faith and our itty-bitty obedience and amplified the results far beyond anything I ever thought possible when I nursed my first baby, unsure how we’d pay the full amount of the next month’s rent.
So while the numbers in my bank account may tremble a bit in the shadow of bills to come, this girl isn’t trembling at all. Because I serve a God who is able to do far more abundantly beyond anything I ever asked or thought.
He has never failed to provide. Never. He’s even provided amply enough for us to be generous.
We haven’t always had all the things we want. But we’ve never done without the things we need.
Sometimes He provides just in the nick time, often we have to work to pay for some foolish choices, but He’s never been late.
It’s from experience that I trust my God – the God who is able to take a little bit of faith, a handful of flour, and a few drops of oil and multiply it to cover the needs of one generous widow, her son, and their guest.
He’s already provided me with salvation from my sins, a family, a more amazing life than I ever deserved, this current job, and so much more.
I trust my God with my whole heart, in little or in plenty. How could I not? I have Him! I have the Lord my God; my Savior Yeshua; my King!
Whether we return to times of plenty or continue in times of want, my heart is full.
Because in Christ, I have all I need.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I amto be content.I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?
But if you do not do what is right,
sin is crouching at your door;
it desires to have you,
but you must rule over it."
(Genesis 4:7, NIV)
For the last couple of years, my husband has engaged in a fierce battle against a backyard invader.
This member of the grass family is actually rather impressive in it’s persistence. Over the last several years, it’s sent scouts into our yard from our neighbor, each one of which we diligently cut down.
Yet over time, one or two scouts became several. Then dozens. Before we knew it, our garden and an entire corner of our yard had been taken over by the quick-growing grass.
To combat our enemy, it became necessary to remove our garden fence, the entire garden, dig a trench along the fencerow and install a barrier to halt it’s progress. Then came the real back-breaking work: using his own muscle and a shovel, my poor man set to digging, ripping out the menace by it’s well-established underground rhizomes.
Bamboo shoots grow at an astonishing rate of speed. The massive stalks are anchored by node clusters often larger than a human head and a network of rhizomes interwoven into a dense, iron-hard system which seems to mock human removal efforts.
The 20-year-old bamboo forest next door has slowly but steadily encroached upon their yard, engulfing trees and bushes as it grows.
As I’ve offered my paltry help to my husband in bamboo removal, it’s really kept me mindful of a similar battle: my war against sin.
Sin is the bamboo of my heart. In my younger days, I entertained it, fascinated by it’s apparent charm. Little did I know, the peaceful-seeming enchantment on the other side of the fence was already penetrating my heart with subtle but inexorable roots.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin,
and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Before I knew it, shoots were sprouting up all around me, fencing me in. What had started as a momentary glance at someone else’s joy soon became a brief indulgence of the mind. A passing thought, a small jealousy, nothing more.
Until it became more. A tiny thought of “what if?” quickly became a central focus in my mind.
Then with each negligence on my part to quash sinful thoughts, roots grew deeper. Sin became more entrenched. Before I knew it, I found myself beset on all sides, fenced in by thoughts growing out of control from roots I had allowed to become established.
My was bitterness. I allowed resentment over past hurts or even my own poor decisions to fester. One small fanciful daydream about how things could have been, if only… grew into a desire for things to be different now.
I succumbed to the sin of discontent and it sprouted ugly shoots, affecting my words, my mannerisms, my actions.
By the grace of God, when I confessed my sin, He did battle for me, digging out tremendous roots I lacked the strength to remove and cutting away the many-branched tendrils which had wound themselves throughout my desires, crowding out joy.
Praise be to God, I now feel His Light shining on my face again. He has hewn down the thick forest of sin I allowed to spring up around me, casting shadows over my heart.
And my Lord is still at work excavating my heart for remnants of deeply buried rhizomes. This spiritual exhumation is agonizing and lifelong. But it’s worth it.
Though the work is still underway, a mighty clearing has already been accomplished. He’s broken up my fallow ground and sown His own seed upon it.
By His grace, may my life produce fruit for His Kingdom and glory now! May it no longer be filled with attractive but fruitless stands of growth, swaying in the breeze but crowding out the sun but instead bearing fruit that will last.
What is your sneaky sin? What crowds out the glory of God in your life? I pray today you will submit it to the Lord and ask Him to remove it. Then cooperate with His Spirit through the painful work of sanctification, assured you will experience the unbelievable joy of His presence in the end.
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress;
I shall not be greatly shaken.
What do you trust in?
It’s an important question as the world reels in uncertainty from the recent shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conspiracy theories abound, fear and suspicion mingle, defiance and frustration simmer, and no one seems to be able to get a firm handle on the truth.
Even before this microscopic menace shook the world, my nation already seethed with a sickly admixture of political posturing and spin-doctored semi-truths blended into our daily diet of news and memes.
It’s ironic that in the so-called “Information Age,” it’s become increasingly difficult to find useful information. Most data we are fed is tainted by the agenda of its handlers before being slanted by the agenda of it’s recipients.
Sometimes it seems we are living in a gigantic game of Telephone in which no one remembers either who went first or the words of the beginning message.
As a people, we are well primed for the time my Lord Yeshua (Jesus) warned His disciples against, when “…false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” (Mat. 24:24)
My brothers and sisters in Christ, now more than ever, we need to be both vigilant in understanding the signs of the times and diligent in accurately handling the truth. But even more, we need to take seriously the ambassadorship for the Kingdom we represent during our exile on earth.
So again as we face the unknown, I ask: What do you trust in?
Is it your freedom to choose or your rights? A political party or a system of government? Your local grocery store, a paycheck, the economy? Do you trust most in a spouse or a friend? Your parent or child? Good health?
Or do you trust most in the unchanging One, the Ancient of Days whose hands have formed you; who knows the length of your days; and whose love and mercy know no bounds?
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress;
I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
There is none like you among the gods,
O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.Psalm 86:8
During Covid Madness, I have to take more than occasional breaks from Facebook, lest I, too join the maddened crowds.
What is it about a crisis that seems to bring out the worst in some people? It’s heartbreaking to me. In the past when I would be upset, I’d turn to the Lord in prayer and then to exercise to work off some steam.
But now that CFS has effectively quashed my dreams of buffing the ol’ guns back into their former glory, I’m spending the time walking and obsessing over the local flora.
So today, to commemorate my favorite field of flowers which was just sprayed before planting, I present to you two of my favorite April flowers. I think the Lord may have something to say to us through them, if we pay attention.
First, the humble crimson clover.
It isn’t particularly impressive on its own, I’ll grant you. But put it together with several of it’s mates, and you have an altogether appealing visual treat.
For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:10-11
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God,
with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.Psalm 86:12-13
Next, the Bachelor’s Button. I beg your forgiveness for any blurry photography. It has been very breezy here lately.
This little flower is quite decent enough by itself. However, I love most the blue haze of an entire field of them spread over the grass like a fuzzy blue blanket.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.Psalm 103:13-16
And sometimes, these two very different flowers share the same field. The result is stunning, and my poor photos do not do it justice.
I almost feel as if they exist for no other reason than to offer glory, praise, and honor to their Creator.
We could learn from these flowers. Even as I write these words, the field is browned from herbicide and ready for tilling.
Lord may the fallow ground of our hearts be ready for the work You want to do in us!
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from
everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.Psalm 103:17-19
Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy,
and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.
But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy.
Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.Isaiah 8:12-13
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.Psalm 33:18-22
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles
to abstain from the passions of the flesh,
which wage war against your soul.
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable,
so that when they speak against you as evildoers,
they may see your good deeds
and glorify God on the day of visitation.1Peter 2:11-12
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Ever get what you asked for but it looked so different from what you imagined that it took you some time to realize it? This is one of my answered prayers, albeit an answer I’ve tried to deny…
I’m starting to accumulate quite a number of letters beside my name. Heather Davis; IBS, ME/CFS… It’s too bad they are all diagnoses instead of degrees. C’est la vie!
The last one, ME/CFS, has actually been on my chart for several years now. It stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It’s also known as Systemic Exercise Intolerance Disease or Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome, but most people just call it Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. CFS for short.
It’s a diagnosis I refused to submit to for years, mainly because it always seemed like a description rather than a diagnosis. I suppose that’s why some doctors are switching to the other, more medical-sounding names. But of course, once a thing has been around in the public consciousness for a time, it’s difficult to change it.
For me, it is a humbling diagnosis. However, now that my migraines have been under control for several months, it’s become extremely clear there’s another issue behind the insane bouts of fatigue that have plagued me for much of my adulthood.
A primary reason I’ve been refusing to accept this diagnosis is… well, if I’m honest, it’s pride. CFS hurts my pride.
You see, a hallmark of CFS is what the docs call Post-Exertional Malaise, which basically means if I work out too hard or even overextend what little grey matter migraine has left to me, I crash.
And for this one-time fitness nut, that’s a bit hard to swallow.
Before I had children, I was a gym rat. When children came, I found other ways to work out at home with freeweights, video workouts, you name it. In my thirties, I hit a personal fitness best after going through the P90-X program.
Ever since migraines came in and stole the body I worked so hard to attain, I’ve planned on regaining it; especially after a friend celebrated her 50th by sporting a STUNNING physique! I wanted to rise to the challenge she offered.
A few years ago, I set my mind to accomplish this. I’m in my forties, so I stared slow. After walking for a bit, maybe a few days of light weights, I decided the time had come to ramp things up. In the past, increased intensity brought increased energy.
Not anymore. Instead, I couldn’t wake up the next day. I crashed, not for a day but more like a week.
Thinking it was a fluke, I tried again. And again. And a sad number of “agains” until I had to realize something wasn’t right.
It just isn’t normal to feel like you have a case of the flu that comes and goes, getting worse every time you exercise vigorously! But it is normal for CFS. Hurrah.
So, friends, there’s a bit of an update. It keeps me from ever catching up, but I’m trying to learn to live within new limits. Unfortunately for me, I’m a slow learner AND a terrible patient (according to my husband – pray for him!).
And I can’t complain. Honestly. After all, this is an answer to my own prayer.
Admittedly, God’s answer isn’t playing out as I imagined, but years ago I did ask Him to strip away every single thing that distracted me from Him.
Apparently being uber-fit was one of those things.
So today, I give thanks to God who truly does answer all our prayers and give us everything we need. Which is Himself, by the way. He is all I really need. And anything I need to endure to get closer to Him is worth it.
Even pain. Even CFS.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Last Sunday, our pastor discussed the Beatitudes, pointing out the differences between our culture’s idea of blessing and the statements of blessing our Lord spoke on so many years ago.
A portion of the sermon reminded me of an Advent article I wrote a few years back. While chronologically speaking, this is not the Advent season, I firmly believe for the Christian, every day is Christmas and every day is Easter.
Gracious Redeemer, You are the Blessed One and the source of all blessing. Thank You for the privilege of sharing in Your blessings through the sacrifice of Your only Son!
Today I pray for Your Church as I’ve prayed for my family this week; that we will have the blessing of being poor in spirit so we may understand the depth of our need of You.
Teach our hearts to mourn for sin over the darkness in this world as well as to share in the grief of our brothers and sisters. Destroy our arrogance and pride and replace it with profound humility.
Change our desires and appetites so that we hunger and thirst after righteousness and not after worthless pursuits. Guide us in being merciful to others as You have been merciful to us.
Purify our hearts so our desires and the overflow of our hearts are pure before You as well as demonstrating Your purity to others. Show us how to be peacemakers and not contribute to the turmoil and chaos of the global conversation.
And when persecution comes to us, Lord, let us be found faithful to You. Teach us to rejoice over everything that drives us closer to You, even thought it may be exquisitely painful at the time. You are worthy, Lord, and we are Your humble servants, amen.