Those Worrisome Words – Christian

For series background info, see my previous post.

Our kickoff word is Christian.

Sooooo many people use this word, and yet in utter sincerity, I do not think it means what they think it means.

Nerd Alert – brief foray into etymology ahead!!

The word Christian actually comes from a Greek word which was coined not long after the death of the Christ, who was likely called Yeshua by His contemporaries and more commonly known today by the transliterated and (possibly Swiss-ified from the Geneva Bible translation) name, Jesus.

Long story short, His Greek title would have been (transliterated), Christos. Christianos was the Greek derivative used to refer collectively to those who followed His Way not long after His death. The English is easy to spot from there.

But what does the word mean? What, exactly, makes a person a Christian?

I’ve had a virtual conversation with an atheist who believes Adolf Hitler was a Christian. And from his perspective, it makes sense. After all, Hitler belonged to a nation which identified itself as a Christian nation, he mentioned Divine Providence (a way of referring to God) many times in his speeches, wrote about his concept of God and the Divine Image in his autobiography, and even proclaimed Jesus as Savior and Lord during a speech or two.

Surely that’s enough to make him a Christian, right?

After all, if yours truly, a mother of three, suddenly chooses to identify as a man, I can be a man – thus saith the progressive logic of the current century and thus the atheist’s puzzling little piece fits, though admittedly the picture is more a puzzle assembled than if it remained in scattered pieces.

The truth is, Hitler also used the term Christian while remaining ignorant of its actual meaning. Consider this quote straight from the pen of the mustachioed Austrian madman himself:

It would be better if they left this [missionary] work alone, and if, in its stead, they tried to teach people in Europe, kindly and seriously, that it is much more pleasing to God if a couple that is not of healthy stock were to show loving kindness to some poor orphan and become a father and mother to him, rather than give life to a sickly child that will be a cause of suffering and unhappiness to all.

Adolf Hitler, from Mein Kampf

According to the deceased dictator’s philosophy, the God-honoring Christian thing to do is to sterilize the sick and infirm, allowing them to perhaps raise some healthy orphan rather than perpetuate their inferior genetic stock.

He goes on to sing the praises of eugenics. The gist of this section of merry old Adolf’s autobiography is that allowing unhealthy, crippled, mentally deficient, or “racially impure” (presumably by his standard) people to procreate is an act of immorality.

Logically consistent, but abhorrently far from what Jesus actually lived and died to accomplish. Hitler shaped his concept of God, Christianity, and morality around his lifestyle, ethnic makeup, and opinions rather than shaping his worldview around the actual Christ as presented in His Word.

Like so many of us still do today, deceiving ourselves that we have no kinship with a freak like Hitler. Too many of us fail to see the inherent dangers of redefining what it means to follow Christ.

So is a Christian merely a person who identifies himself with the Christ and calls Jesus his Savior and Lord?

Not according to the Christ Himself:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 7:21

The Lord goes on to declare even some people who call Him Lord and do incredible feats – things I’ve certainly never accomplished – in His name will not enter. Jesus labels these Christ-proclaiming high-performers workers of lawlessness, not Christians.

So what is a Christian, if not a person who calls the Christ Lord?

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

John 14:23

There’s the start of the definition, though it’s necessary to know Jesus’s commands. Read Matthew 16:21-27, John 13, John 15 – heck, really you need to read the entire Book and study the types of Christ in the Old Covenant before moving on to study the actual Christ in the Gospels and letters making up the New Covenant.

To know what a Christian is, study the Christ. And remember that He tells us we can know them by their fruits.

A person is not a Christian just because they say they are, nor because they do a little Divine name-dropping or throw out a frequent, “Praise the Lord!”

Instead, observe their fruit. Do his actions bring acclaim to himself? Does her lifestyle honor herself?

Or do they imitate the life of Christ?

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:12-13

Words That May Not Mean What You Think They Mean

In honor of the end of a year filled with=racial tension, pandemics, heated debates over small bits of cloth, and other nonsense, I thought it would be fun to incorporate one of my favorite quotes from The Princess Bride into a blog series. That is, assuming I have time to write said series, and assuming anyone still reads blogs since I’ve been MIA dealing with analog life stuff for a few months.

Who am I kidding? Analog life keeps me busy enough that the only time I’ve actually had to write was during my COVID-19 infection quarantine when my brain decided to socially distance itself from the rest of my body and what was left behind behaved as if a good 14 hours or so of sleep provided only enough energy to maintain a semi-conscious state for the remaining 10 hours of the day.

Not a single minute of which became writing time.

Still, this quote is appropriate for the “It’s not religion; it’s a relationship,” rather backwards, inside-out, and top-down sort of non-religion-religionesque type of thingie that the world calls Christianity.

And so, from the mouth of the beloved fencing expert/professional vengeance-seeker, Inigo Montoya, I give you one of my top 127 favorite quotes from the movie:

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Inigo Montoya

Ta-da!

Yes that’s right, I’m going to dip my toes into the murky tide of how some words are commonly used as opposed to what they actually mean.

In doing so, I imagine I will step on a few toes and maybe stub mine a time or two. Even still, I think it’s a good practice to stop and think about the words we are tossing about like whiffle balls in case they might be hand grenades.

Or at least, maybe we should take a moment to explore the words we are using to ensure the sounds coming from our faces are being interpreted according to our intent.

I know, I know…

Inconceivable!

Stay tuned for an irregularly-published series on words and their meanings…

Aftermath

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ…
Read the rest of Luke 2:25-35

Luke 2:25-26

Another Christmas morning is in the books. For several weeks now, most of us have been caught up in a whirlwind of parties and preparation, baking and shopping, wrapping and decorating.

Today we stand in the aftermath. The seasonal crescendo has come and gone, leaving behind memories, decorations, and perhaps a few stray shreds of wrapping paper beneath the sofa. The excitement wanes as we once again submit to the tyranny of the mundane.

I wonder… in the days after the first Christmas, did Mary and Joseph experience a similar sense of encroaching ordinariness? Their lives had been turned on end by angelic announcements followed by a singular pregnancy and the anticipation of Messiah.

I imagine the high emotions of those days – awe at the coming task of parenting the Son of God; sorrow over rejection from friends and family who see only evidence of promiscuity in the swelling of Mary’s belly.

But now it was all past. The daily drudgery of caring for the Infant, providing food and shelter, and waiting out the time of purification had settled in.

Do you sometimes wonder, “Is this it?”

Do you think our Lord’s human parents did also?

This is the point when Simeon entered – a full forty days after the drama had faded into routine. But Simeon did not see merely another couple with a child performing the necessary rites of a Torah-observant Jewish family. Simeon saw the glory of the King through the ordinariness of daily Jewish life and new parent fatigue. And he embraced the Babe, proclaiming the good news and praising God as he did.

Perhaps we can learn from Simeon. Perhaps we, too, can diligently seek our Savior in the midst of familiar workaday routine. What if we embraced every tiny glimpse of Him, proclaiming the mercy and praise of God to our families each day as we’re going about the necessary duties of life?

Perhaps we can use this time to teach our kids that Christmas isn’t Christmas because of the gifts and twinkling lights, but because of Christ. Maybe together, we can start identifying Christ in our everyday lives and praising His goodness to all who stand near.

Maybe for us, every day can be Christmas.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. What are some practical steps you can take to discover Jesus in the middle of your day-to-day life?
  2. How can you celebrate the birth of our Savior long after the seasonal festivities have ceased?
  3. Try instituting a new habit: With your family, spouse, small group, or a couple of friends, start a daily conversation about where each person saw Jesus in their day.  This can be done verbally in conversation or via text, email, or whatever. Just learning to recognize and acknowledge Him in our lives can be tremendous!

…And Now For Something Completely Different

So you may or may not know this, but I have been working at my kids’ school part-time this school year. I was hired to wear a few hats, one of which is that of a middle school photography teacher.

However to do this in a school which has never had a photography program and which is small enough to have a slender arts budget, I had to write my own curriculum.

I’ve just spent a few days tweaking it and converting it and have uploaded it to Teachers Pay Teachers.

If you know of anyone who needs a one-semester smartphone photography course written for an elective schedule of rotating classes (classes rotate between M/W and T/H classes and alternate on Fridays), look no further! I’m offering the whole enchilada, so to speak, along with project packets and other bundles for units that would take up less than a whole semester.

Check out my store: HM Davis Photography Expressions!

I would appreciate any help spreading the word. This has been a tough season for a lot of us, yours truly included. While I enjoy the extra time with my high school junior and senior that sharing cars affords, it can be very challenging to have 4 drivers, 2 cars, and jobs and activities spread across 2-3 counties in middle Tennessee!!

Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

<3<3 Heather

A Very 2020 Christmas Break

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 1:8

Today is officially the first day of Christmas break for my people and me. But for us, it started a bit early this year.

Thanks, COVID-19.

That’s right. Yours truly has been in quarantine since Tuesday when I went for my COVID test. It was positive, and my last week of school suddenly became my first week of break.

I only felt glued-to-my-bed lousy for a couple of days, though my brain seems to have decided it wanted no part of the diagnosis and vacated for warmer (or perhaps healthier) climes. It took my energy with it, too. Stinkin’ deserters.

The worst of it has been my guilt at realizing what I thought were issues caused by extra coffee the day before my test were actually early COVID symptoms. And the most annoying symptom so far is the exposure of my ultimate parenting fail: When I emerged from my bed for the first time, I discovered my husband had been doing all the dishes while my girls did… whatever it is teenage girls do.

But evidently they were very busy with it, assuring me that they did “lots of cleaning” – which I can only assume was done at a neighbor’s house since my own shows a scandalous lack of either cleanliness or order.

Even though the illness tossed a pipe bomb into my plans for last week (not to mention shattered any illusions I may have still clung to that my girls were responsible, capable young adults), I’m not upset.

Oh I admit, I did look forward to my final devotional with my students. I had hoped to make some homemade chocolate-dipped strawberry marshmallows to share with the staff, and I did really want to celebrate my official entrance into menopause with a treat made by my favorite Magical Baking Fairy But I really can’t complain.

After all, this is Advent – the time of year when (I hope) we all look forward to the future arrival of Jesus while celebrating His first.

In the face of what He did for me the first time around, I can really only feel gratitude and sorrow. Gratitude for what He gave for me; sorrow for how little I give Him in return. But mostly, I feel joy. Joy for the privilege of knowing Him; joy for the promise of eternity to get to know Him more.

As I contemplate both Advents, I can’t help but think of my own arrival at the end of this race, whenever it may be. When I think of the great day when I will officially enter into eternity with God, all other celebrations pale in comparison. I pray it is the same for you.

Merry Christmas!

You Keep Using That Word, Part 2: Progressive

I need to preface this with a shoutout to the author whose podcast and book put a name to a dark and nameless dissonance I’d been often frustrated by in my walk with the Lord.

As an atheist who came to know God through the Bible long before stepping into a church congregation, I’d puzzled for years over a disconnect I found between me and some who call themselves Christian. We used the same terms, claimed the same Lord, even referenced a few of the same Scriptures, but what we meant by these things didn’t seem to mesh.

Then I heard Alisa Childers reference Progressive Christianity. Whether by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, instinct, or both, I knew this was the name of the lurking menace I’d encountered.

If you’re looking for an excellent Christmas present or a great Christmastime read for yourself, I HIGHLY recommend Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers. She writes with grace, tact, and candor of how a self-proclaimed “flaky artist type” took a plunge into the deep waters of apologetics and learned that her faith is built on Rock-solid ground.

Buy it. Read it. You won’t be sorry. Now on to today’s program:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:6-8

Progressive. The word just sounds so… dynamic, doesn’t it?

It hints at sophistication; of gaining ground. When attached to a noun, this adjective lends a sense of importance, of forward motion, and of… well, of progress.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

– Inigo Montoya

But in truth, progress isn’t the significant thing. Making progress in the right direction is of far greater importance.

Four times now, I’ve made excellent progress on a hike – along a route that diverged moderately from the planned path. Once my companion and I forsook the path entirely and struck out on our own.

Such enthusiastic and progressive hiking experiences culminated in a variety of results. One particularly memorable result involved an unintended tour of adjacent mountaintops while keeping one eye on the sun’s position in the sky and the other on our (fortunately) distinctive goal.

We did make it to the goal before sunset, though our appearance must have been alarming. We were immediately offered food and water.

I suppose experiences like these have taught me to be cautious of vague descriptors such as progressive.

So when I first heard of “progressive Christianity,” I initially responded with a mixture of puzzled disbelief and a primal shock of icy horror.

If progressing up the wrong mountainside prompted wide-eyed day hikers to thrust their half-empty water bottles towards me, what is the appropriate response for people progressing towards the wrong eternity?

Though we’re easily lulled into believing our physical, mental, and emotional needs are the most important thing in life, the plight of those meandering comfortably and happily down the broad path to destruction is far more desperate than, say, a starving hiker lost in the backcountry with nothing but the clothes on his body and the seal of the Holy Spirit on his heart.

Progressive Christianity shares very little with actual followers of Jesus the Christ. It is progressively moving towards quite a different goal. A more honest devotee would call it progressive churchianity – or even what it is – secular humanism dressed in a dollar-store Jesus costume complete with Anglo-Saxon features.

Ironically, Christianity as it is understood through the Word of God, the teachings of the Christ, and the early Church is progressive.

It speaks of progressively becoming more like Jesus of Nazareth; of progressively dying to oneself and one’s sin; of daily progress towards the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Of progressive expectations of persecution and suffering laced with the joy of knowing it all has a purpose and an eternal hope.

However, the other thing wears the name of Christianity much like decaf wears the name of coffee. It has little of the flavor and none of the power.

What passes under the title of progressive Christianity has a form of godliness but denies its power. It promises something which resembles peace on earth and good will towards men while assuming a lack of peace and good will among men is the worst part.

Progressive Christianity treats the spiritual equivalent of ebola with a splash of lavender essential oil and a sweet little smile.

And it is making progress in our churches. Just not in the right direction.

Testify!

I don’t normally do this, but a sweet friend and sister in Christ was moved by my last post to share a testimony of God at work in her life. I found her story deeply moving and was humbled by her transparency.

I especially wanted to share it now as we can clearly see our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, waiting for someone to devour as 1 Peter 5:8 tells us. With her permission, I am sharing it here with you, edited slightly to protect her privacy:

“Scripture says, ‘Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins’ (James 5:20).

In the spirit of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, I wanted to share a piece of my story with you to give you some hope that Jesus can and will transform the hearts and minds of those you see behaving inappropriately—if they let him do so.

In the summer of 2018, my family and I left Station Hill (and church altogether) for about a year.  I was still deeply wounded from a Life Group experience gone wrong several months prior.  I’d struggled with them since the beginning, a chunk of which was my own fault.  I’d gotten into a couple of disagreements on social media about politics with a group member.  My natural political inclinations are center-left; the other’s are solidly right.  (Looking back, soooo embarrassing and immature.  I was willing to sacrifice the unity of the church and my and their Christian witness for my rights and rightness.)

The final straw came, though, when the pastor referenced the Supreme Court and abortion amidst the nasty Kavanaugh confirmation saga.  I’d had it.  I walked out of that church, didn’t talk to the pastor or anyone else, and was determined never to return.

To my dismay, however, God wouldn’t leave me alone about Station Hill or break my emotional ties entirely with the people of the church.  (They’d already walked with my husband and me through an intense season of infertility, but that’s another long story.  In addition, there’s gonna be using a lot of “I” pronouns since this is my story; my husband has his own perspective.)

I eventually returned once the church scheduled a meeting about how to support families at the border, a pro-life cause that I felt was being ignored by both the local church and the global white American evangelical one.  I kept coming periodically.  The pastor didn’t throw stones at me from the pulpit, and the two close friends there I had remaining generously welcomed me back.

The political sermon in the “True North” series was particularly healing for me.  I finally let the Spirit convict me enough to email the pastor to repent of treating the church like a country club instead of a family and for any hurt I’d caused by leaving the way I did.  He was gracious, extended the forgiveness to me I didn’t deserve, and invited me to ask any questions I had remaining.  Of course, those questions involved politics and revealed my heart of idolatry–which the pastor could see but I couldn’t at that point.

In a sermon a couple of weeks later, the pastor used a quote from Hudson Taylor that I hope I never forget–‘Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all.’  


You know how sometimes it seems that the pastor is looking straight at you?  That was one of those times for me.  I felt like I’d been stabbed in the heart; I very nearly burst into tears.  Jesus is my Savior, and I’d really thought He was my Lord.  It hurt me that the pastor didn’t think that Jesus was my Lord–‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend’ (Proverbs 27:6), though, because I obviously hadn’t surrendered to His Lordship when it came to politics. 

That statement, combined with a Coffee House Theology podcast on Galatians 4 that I just “happened” to tune into–about not letting the Judaizers (or their modern equivalent) lure you back into bondage—sparked some immense spiritual growth and love and healing.  I feel like I was “born again” again.   

While I haven’t been politically perfect since that time, God has been so gracious and patient and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love to keep forgiving, teaching, and redirecting me.

I was obedient to let God remove me from a state government job that at that point was reinforcing my ungodly tendencies.  With the pastor’s sermons, I was able to finally see that I was trying to uphold government as the instrument of redemption, trying fruitlessly to force society to skip from brokenness to restoration without going through Jesus.

I surprised myself that when President Trump got Covid, my genuine desire was to pray for him instead of to gloat.  I opted to attend the Women’s Night at church rather than to watch another fruitless, divisive presidential debate.


Other followers of Jesus, not some political party that will rise and fall, are my true tribe now and forever will be.   💗 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rDeiy9-t2GE ” – L. P.

Christianity is Not a Political Movement

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Election day in my country is just around the corner, and this year the rhetoric is particularly fierce. We’re hip-deep in a pandemic and institutions everywhere are struggling to make decisions on how best to cope.

Of course, this is America and we the people are brimming with unasked for, sometimes ill-informed, but nevertheless staunchly-held opinions. Whether we’ve ever run a school or a restaurant or not, we are dead-certain we know the right way (this typically being the way which best suits our lifestyle).

If you’re in any form of institutional leadership, the one thing you can be certain of today is your decisions will make someone furious. You cannot win. For every vehement YES, you can find at least one equally emphatic NO.

And on it goes. But overall, I’ve come to expect such things from the secular world. What makes my heart sink is to hear such fuming from the mouths of people who claim the name of Christ even inside the Church.

It seems we’ve forgotten Jesus did not die to save us from masks or Democrats.

Politics, lockdowns, viruses, vaccines – none of these are the real problem. Sin is. Sin is a cancer much more malignant than any political ideology, virus, or social conspiracy. And with a whopping 100% fatality rate, it’s far more deadly.

All who die in their sins are forever beyond hope. This is news that ought to keep us up nights; not the fleeting idiocy of a handful of politicians; not the failures of our public education system; not even the unspeakable horrors of being asked to wear a bit of cloth over our mouth and nose.

Because of the staggering consequences of lives lived without Christ, if we call ourselves Christian, we ought to be busy rejoicing in our sufferings and preparing to give an answer for the hope that is in us with both gentleness and reverence.

We ought to be considering Him who endured such hostility as a Roman flogging and the cross against Himself so we may not grow weary or fainthearted. So we don’t lose sight of His mission to go and make disciples, teaching them to obey Him.

We need to remember Jesus does not call us to stand up and fight for our rights and freedoms. It’s actually quite the opposite: He calls us to deny ourselves.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Luke 9:23-24

No matter how the election turns out or how few people admire our perspective, we are still called to respect those whom God appoints to govern over us. We are called to pray for them. And even (whether we agree or not), to obey them so long as their laws do not violate the absolute laws of our King.

God is the true Sovereign. And He is less interested in our stance on masks or reopening than on our humble obedience in walking as Jesus walked.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Romans 13:1-2

Whatever happens before, during, and after the election, if we call ourselves by the holy Name of Christ, let us be sure of two things:

First, that our behavior is Christ-like. Self-denying. Self-sacrificing. Totally obedient to the Father and both immersed and well-versed in the Scriptures. Humble.

And second, that our definition of Christlikeness comes from what the Word of Truth teaches about Him and not from this madly crumbling culture.

At the very least, let’s resolve not to throw a temper-tantrum when we don’t get our way, dragging the reputation of He whose image we bear down with us as we flail in the mud.

PS – Click here to listen to an excellent message on a similar topic. Stay through the song – there’s more!

The One I Forgot To Post

Written for my church family for October 1, 2020

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever.

2 Timothy 4:16-18

Devotion

Written by Heather Davis from the Station Hill Campus

The late Ravi Zacharias once wrote, “Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”

Ravi has finished well. According to his daughter, “He turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done,” until he no longer had strength to speak. He reminds me of the apostle Paul. Paul also used his final days to point others to the goodness of the Lord, putting pen to parchment in order to encourage younger disciples to stay strong. His words still encourage us today.

But ministry wasn’t easy on Paul. In his many travels, he endured varied forms of beatings, hunger, thirst, and frequent danger, only to find himself deserted by friends at his defense following his final arrest in Rome. Yet rather than bitter brooding over this slight, his letters from prison urged others to stay the course—because although the race is hard, the end is worthwhile.

What compelled these two men to spend every possible moment sharing their hope in Christ and strengthening believers? I believe they felt the brevity of this life and the weight of eternity for those who did not yet know the Lord. To the end, they kept their eyes fixed on the Founder and Perfecter of their faith. The rest flowed naturally from His Spirit welling up within them.

I can’t speak for you, but I find it all too easy to fixate on self and circumstance. When I do, whether my days are filled with difficulties or comforts, the temporary things of this world loom large.

But when I set my mind on the goodness of my God and His offer of eternal life and joy in Christ, the jaw-dropping ceaselessness and permanence of eternity come into razor-keen focus. Suddenly my present entertainment or struggle seems trifling. Instead, my awe of God reminds me: people are dying without Jesus, and when they face the ultimate Judge, they will be truly alone. Others are drifting from the Truth and being led astray by false teaching, and they need discipling to keep them mindful of the Way.

With the King of kings as my focal point, I begin to view everything in terms of eternity. No matter what happens to my physical body, I have a hope beyond time.

But my friends—or even my enemies—may not. So I keep pressing on.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. What occupies your thoughts more—your present circumstance or your eternal blessing in Christ?
  2. What are some small, daily habits you can form to make discipleship a natural part of your life?
  3. If you aren’t already passionate about discipling others in obedience to Christ, consider committing to prayer that the Lord will change your heart and focus to be in line with His command to make disciples.
  4. Memorize Deuteronomy 6:4-9 with your family or friends. Print or write it out and post it somewhere as a daily reminder for discipleship.

Comfort Zones

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Mark 1:16-18

My analog life is coming at me hard and fast these days, which hasn’t allowed a great deal of time for writing or bloggish fellowship. I miss everyone, but I also know this is a busy-but-brief season.

In two short years, my nest will likely be empty of all but animal fur, echoing with the memories of busy teenagers and their friends.

Before I grow nostalgic over events yet to be, allow me to segue into a funny moment I recently enjoyed with my heavenly Father. It happened during new faculty orientation when my boss mentioned the need to step out of our comfort zones.

My comfort zone. I stopped just short of laughing aloud.

(Legitimate reminiscence begins here).

As a young atheist, I swore I would never have children, aspiring instead to the status of eccentric aunt. I would spoil my nieces and nephews with the money I earned from the cool job I’d have – a job which I adamantly declared would NOT be teaching.

However, God did not allow me to continue in my atheism long, startling me into full awareness of Him by gifting me with our son, Nathan – whose name I much later learned is Hebrew for “He gives.”

Do you enjoy irony?

Evidently, so does my God.

Before the dust settled around the collapsed house of cards my old worldview turned out to be, God gave me two more children in fairly rapid succession.  But He was only setting the stage.

Now that He had my attention with an undeniable call to motherhood, He placed a new calling on my life: Homeschooling.

What, Lord?? You must be kidding!”

He wasn’t.

He called me to teach my children – not only about Him, but about reading, writing, and all the things as well. In the meantime, the Lord continued removing cushions from my comfort zone. 

For example, I was painfully shy and loathed talking in groups. He had plans for that, too.

You know that awkward silence that happens when a group leader asks a question and everyone looks at the floor and hopes someone else will speak up? Guess who gets to break those silences? Turns out, speaking up was a nonsensical fear.

To avoid writing a lengthy, multi-part series about the methodical deconstruction of my comfort zone, let me fast forward a bit.

After a decade of homeschooling, breaking awkward silences, teaching classes of young children, and a grand array of other things I said I’d never do, I thought I’d learned my lesson pretty well. However, I’m afraid I did state out loud to others that middle school students were not my favorite age group.

You see where this is going, don’t you? I should have…

Back to orientation for my new job – as an office assistant and a middle school photography teacher.

On the way home, I talked with the Lord, reflecting about how I no longer had a comfort zone. Since my first faltering steps of obedience, He’s taken me on a whirlwind journey down overgrown paths and little-used avenues in directions I didn’t even know existed.

I’ve never once known what is coming next, but somehow I’ve lost my anxiety about the future along the way. Pretty sure I dropped it along with a sizeable hunk of self-interest during one of many full-bore pivots around a blind hairpin turn.

Anyway, as we talked, I heard that beloved, oh-so-familiar whisper. You still have a Comfort Zone; just not the same one.

He’s right. He always is.

My comfort zone is much more expansive than it used to be. It’s less a zone than an Eternity.

You see, my present comfort zone is precisely in the middle of God’s will. It’s always an adventure, not always exactly comfortable for my flesh, but it is the safest and best place I can be.  

And it’s exactly where I want to be.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, 
because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever, 
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
Isaiah 26:3-4