Unmasked

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

2 Timothy 2:3-4

Here’s a bit of irony for you: the issue of whether or not to wear a mask has unmasked a disturbing dereliction of duty within the Church.

If only the problem were confined to small bits of cloth…

But it isn’t. Every time I browse social media, a heaviness invades my heart.

So much of my feed brims with frustration. So many responses are subtly, or even overtly, hostile. So many opinions flung into virtual print seethe with smugness and accusation but lack verifiable data.

It’s sad to see the bickering in the secular world, but it’s appalling to see it within the Body of Christ. It’s as if we’ve forgotten who our enemy is.

Our enemy is not the lady asking you to please put on a mask in the grocery entryway, nor is it the man walking around without one.

Politicians, political parties, billion dollar industries, liberals, conservatives, illnesses, treatments, “THEM” – none of these are our enemies. And none will be our savior.

In truth, all the issues causing us distress and mouth-foaming rage are temporary. Transient. A vapor soon dispersed by the wind.

For those of us who are in Christ, the time we spend here is not a matter of rights or politics or safety. It’s a matter of eternal life or death.

Brothers and sisters, the hour is growing late. We are ambassadors for the King, and it’s imperative we remember what this means.

And if I may be frank, getting caught up in the swirling digital babble clamoring over politics and masks and disease numbers and the maelstrom of controversy does not point the hurting, sin-weary heart to Christ.

We are called to share in suffering, not dodge it. We willingly sacrifice all else in order to proclaim forgiveness of sin through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If we are in Christ, our allegiance is not to any worldly agenda. It is to God’s agenda, and it we take it up at any cost to ourselves. A quick glance through the pages of Scripture yields several examples.

Jeremiah endured public ridicule and imprisonment, but not for his rights – for the Word of God. And he did it after God told him no one would listen.

Hosea did not place his right to a happy and satisfying marriage over his obedience to God’s command to marry an unfaithful prostitute. The command of God superseded his rights and he knew it. And acted on it.

Ezekiel did not spend over a year lying on his left side and eating bread baked over a poop fire because it brought him joy. He did it for the Lord.

Paul did not suffer persecution, torture, and chains by standing up for his earthly freedoms. He, too, did it for the honor of serving the Lord.

They knew what today’s Church seems to have forgotten. This world is dark, broken, horrible. Bad things will happen. And yes, we will lose rights and freedoms; we will be persecuted. We will suffer harm.

But if we belong to Christ, we will not be overcome so long as we remain faithful to Him and His calling on our lives. But we must have a willingness to share in suffering as good soldiers.

The enemy is not out there, fudging numbers and plotting to cover the faces of the globe with cloth. The true enemy works intimately, stirring up our pride; our selfishness; our sin.

Mine. Yours.

And he is gloating over our distraction from our primary purpose as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God. Let’s no longer give him the satisfaction.

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, 
but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 
Rejoice always, 
pray without ceasing, 
give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
Do not quench the Spirit. 
Do not despise prophecies, but test everything;
hold fast what is good. 
Abstain from every form of evil. 
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, 
and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-24

Walking a Thin Line

Written for my church’s daily devotional in June…

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?

Romans 2:1-3

As a chaperone for a New York City field trip, I boarded the subway with my daughter’s class. A man lay on one seat, sweatpants pulled up to the knee revealing legs crisscrossed by scabs. Despite open eyes beneath his blue-tinted sunglasses, he remained oblivious to our group. When spoken to, he either could not or would not respond. A wet stain with yellowed edges on his pants added a tragic stroke to an already dismal image.

Recognizing signs of drug abuse, I stood between him and the teenagers in my care, uncertain how the chemical cocktail in his veins would manifest in his behavior. My heart hurt for him.

Early in my Christian walk, I lacked such compassion. Shamefully, I often disdained anyone who fell short of obeying God by my standards, blind to my failure in obeying Him to Christ’s standards. Such judgmental thoughts never stay secret but corrupt actions and attitudes, poisoning our witness.

Since those days, God has humbled me, reminding me I’m no better than the man on the subway. But for the grace of God, I could have been lying there.

As an unbeliever, I struggled with an intense self-focus I preferred to call depression. I congratulated myself on not taking prescription antidepressants even as I self-medicated with alcohol and marijuana. Pride blinded me to my double standard. How many steps down this slippery slope did I lack before tumbling into my own pit of addiction? I shudder to imagine.

 The truth is, the condition of the man on the train closely mirrors anyone’s spiritual state apart from Christ. Including mine. When I reflect on the mercy God showed me, I can no longer condemn others.

What horror brought this man to a point of surrendering hope and dignity for a temporary respite from reality? I doubt he made a conscious choice to enslave himself to a drug. Addiction is insidious, seeming to offer relief. But over time, it takes more and more until it has complete dominion. Exactly like every other sin.

Today, Christ alone stands between the filth of my sins and the wrath of the Father, and He alone offers genuine and lasting relief.  He offers it to the man on the train, as well. My place is not to judge but I have the privilege of sharing the freedom I’ve found in Christ. I pray that poor man will find Christ, too.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Most of us struggle against addiction in some form. If not drugs or alcohol, it could be porn, food, approval, work, reward, entertainment – the list is long. What are you prone to enslave yourself to?
  2. Does what you give your time and effort to really satisfy, or does it take more and more over time?
  3. Next time you find yourself craving some relief or release, try crying out to God instead, asking Him to change your craving for what does not satisfy into a desire for Him.  He alone can truly fill our gaping need.

Recent Absence and God’s Unexpected Provision

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Matthew 6:26

I know I haven’t been around much, and it’s looking like that trend may continue.

Oh, I’ll pop in here and there; maybe read a few posts, maybe write one on occasion. But I’ve kind of given up regular posting for a time.

For one, there is SO MUCH NOISE in the world right now. My little voice simply isn’t loud enough to be heard over it all. And to be honest, there are tons of people in my analog life who need time – and tons of people in the digital realm with a wider impact for the Lord than this mama.

If I can be candid…? I’ve been working a part-time job plus another small writing contract, and those added to ME/CFS and regular life (not to mention all the appointments which are now crammed into summer thanks to Covid-Madness) have left me with little extra time.

That extra time belongs to my family and analog friends. For now, at least. Who knows what may happen later? But as I type this, my girls are about to enter their junior and senior years of high school and my son is looking for his first apartment.

This is a season – one that is passing all too quickly. So I will be around the blogosphere; just not necessarily weekly.

But before I go, I need to boast a little about my God.

Last Monday while driving to a dentist appointment, I was praying to the Lord for provision. My current part-time job didn’t quite cover tuition and yet my attempts to work full time at this place brought about extra physical issues.

As I was asking the Lord to provide what I could not see coming – and mean literally as the words were coming out of my face – I hit something in the dentist’s parking lot and blew a tire.

I laughed and said out loud, “No matter. I trust my God to meet our needs anyway!”

The very next day, I went into a meeting with the school’s headmaster. To my great surprise, he had a part-time role there at the school for me.

In fact, it had been his impression that a former employee had already set things up with me (nope!), and among other roles, a schedule had already been made with my name as teacher for a 7th period photography class!

Anyway, it’s a long story how that came to be, but suffice to say working at the girls’ school is very much ideal. For one thing, it almost totally covers tuition. Also when sports practices and so on begin, I’ll already be on site.

I’ve subbed there, so I know and love the people, too. And I get a captive audience of young people to talk to about the Lord. It’s a win-win!

Now to figure out how to translate my experience as a semi-professional-but-mostly-amateur photographer into a classroom teaching experience…

I’d love it if you find a second to pray for me as I tackle this new adventure!

O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

Isaiah 25:1

Flowers for Floyd (and Aubery and Breonna and…)

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:26-27

I have so much to say and so little time to say it. My heart grieves for my black brothers and sisters. My heart also grieves for my nation, torn apart by violence and division.

If you haven’t already, I urge you to watch this conversation, especially if you are a white Christian. Dr. Phillips brings some very useful insight and perspective into the plight of our darker-skinned brothers and sisters. We are still part of one body. Let’s suffer together now and look forward to the great Day when we can rejoice together forever.

And let’s do what we can.

It may be a small thing, but for the last 19 years, I’ve done my best to raise children who see one race – the human race; a race with a beautiful array of skin colors, sizes, shapes, and so forth. I’ve taught them to look at a person’s heart and attitudes, not their outward appearance. And I’ve taught them the most by living it out, because I’ve always loathed racism in all forms.

Already, it’s time for me to go to work. But I am praying. I’m praying for an end to the underlying implicit cultural memory which may well be what lurks at the root of the problem in America. I’m praying for those who belittle peaceful protests by using them as a cover for evil. And I’m praying for those who hurt, who are afraid, who are grieving.

My Lord saves. He comforts those who mourn. He binds up the brokenhearted. Because of this, I also pray that all who do not know Him will be drawn to His love and given peace in place of turmoil and joy in place of sorrow.

I love you. ALL of you. No matter how much or little pigment your skin contains. We are all bearers of the Divine Image. We are in this life together. Let’s draw close to the One who made us and close to each other in love.

For only in Christ can we truly be made whole.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:1-3

And he [Jesus] began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:21

Wise Words

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.”

Revelation 19:7-9

Friday Flora: Increase

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 am
to 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.
Philippians 4:11-13

Friday Flora: Insidious

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.

Bamboo.

A bamboo shoot, looking innocent in the morning sun

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.

The bamboo’s remaining stronghold after a summer of intense warfare

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.

An exposed rhizome

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.

A new shoot tops six feet in mere days

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.
(James 1:14-15)

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.

At the edge of a bamboo stand

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.

At the edge of the bamboo stand

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.

A pic from last summer: This was once all bamboo. Today you can see the fence in the back!

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.
(Psalm 30:2-5)

On the Rock

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.
(Psalm 62:1-2)

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
(Psalm 62:5-8)

Flowers for Friday: Purpose

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.

I love the local flora. And besides, I promised some photos of wildflowers quite a while back.

My apologies. I get distracted, you see…

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

TBT: #Blessed

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.

Besides, who knows when the second Advent will be? Thus but also for fun, this link will take you to some throwback thoughts on the word Blessed followed by a prayer similar to the one the Lord has compelled me to pray for my family since Sunday.

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.