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 The command of God superseded his rights and he knew it.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

Of Dogs and Disciples

A revised TBT post in honor of Chestnut who suffered with DM in his last weeks. He achieved his potential.

RIP Chestnut 2010 – 2020

My husband and I have developed our own dog ranking system, partially in jest and partly because…  well, partly because.

In order, the Official Davis Dog Hierarchy is:

  1. Good Dog
  2. Has Potential
  3. Bad Dog

Allow me to embellish.

This is Mayumi:

Yumi001

Mayumi is a Good Dog.

She is very obedient… with occasional exceptions, typically because I haven’t given her adequate exercise. When small children are over, she’s gentle and submissive. As for tricks, she can jump through hoops, sit, stay, high-five with alternating paws, close the door (well, sometimes), and play dead.

As a puppy, she would lay quietly in her crate as long as she could see me. Mayumi is my loyal companion who follows me from room to room and generally wants to be near me. She is calm and can be trusted with people of all ages and animals of all sizes. I love this dog!

This is Chestnut:

Chestnut Has Potential.

For the most part, he is obedient (even coming when called more faithfully than Mayumi), but he does lack self-control.

He absolutely adores people – exuberantly adores them with wild, oafish boundings and clumsy gyrations that threaten the vertical stability of moderately sized humans. Chestnut also has trouble holding his licker and frequently leaves slobber trails on… well, everything.

Due to his… ah, enthusiasm… we crate him when small children or elderly people are visiting. Not all furry things that enter our yard survive – except the three skunks that got him first (honestly, three times !!! Sheesh!!).

I have no pictures of Sable, but she was aptly named. Sable was a Bad Dog.

In the brief time she lived with us, she managed to terrorize the children, (who were still very young), lose all off-leash privileges inside and outside the house, and generally cause me to rue the day I first saw her.

On her final chance off leash in our yard, this demon dog attacked me. Fortunately, I had some training in judo and her snarling challenge went rather badly for her. I walked away from the encounter carrying her by the scruff, angry but unhurt.

Sable became a junkyard dog.

Last but not least, this is our Miscreant thinning the herd of origami reindeer given us by the talented Mr. Leonard Gluck.:

But he’s in a different class entirely.

These animals -or more specifically, their rankings – remind me of myself.

Before I came to know and love the Most High God, I was as dark-hearted as Sable, a miscreant in an altogether separate category – an aimless and nameless wastrel.

But instead of meting out the death penalty I had earned, God did something altogether unexpected and remarkable: He sent His only Son to live out a pure human life without sin and then to die in my place. He – Yeshua Messiah – satisfied justice as the spotless atoning sacrifice; the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

When I deserved pitiless death, I received mercy… and yet God did not stop there. With grace beyond my wildest reckoning, He raised His Son to life again – and promised if I would unite myself with the Son by dying to my own selfish nature and desires, I would be granted a share of His resurrection, too!

Although I was a reprobate, the King called me Daughter.

Although I deserve to pay for my sins, He not only forgave my debt but lavished upon me a spiritual inheritance of inestimable value. What’s more, He has brought light and life to all that was darkened and deadened within me.

My Lord and my God! May the wonder of it all never cease to astonish me!

If I truly love Him for this incredible gift, my life ought to reflect nothing short of complete devotion and steadfast loyalty to Him.

Kind of like Mayumi is with me.

Where He is, I want to be. When He commands; I want to obey promptly. Though I may slip up from time to time, I earnestly desire to be fully His, wholly trusting Him and trusted by Him around people of all ages.

May I never be a casual partaker of Grace, giving the Almighty a perfunctory nod as I tuck His gift carelessly in a pocket while asking Him to bless my self-determined course!

In short, I do not want to a disciple who merely Has Potential…

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:9-10

“Hang In There” – Bill Sweeney

Caught up in the whirlwind of the end of the school year, so once again: Apologies for being mostly vacant from the blogosphere! The good Lord willing, I’ll be back in the mix soon. Until then – and for anyone else going through a crazy time – I wanted to share this wonderful post from my dear brother-in-Christ, Bill Sweeney. If anyone knows what it means to be held aloft by the grace of God, it’s Bill…

Something to Think About…

If today you are unsaved and you have sometimes stumbled over the inconsistency of Christians, let me say that the Word of God takes it for granted that Christians need constant admonishing, but you are invited to come just as you are to Christ, trust Him as your Savior, receive the divine life by faith, and then live as a Christian should and show the rest of us what a real Christian ought to be.

-H. A. Ironside, from In the Heavenlies

Liebster Award – Passing it On

liebster-logoWell, before my week gets a little bit crazy and probably a lot weird thanks to a new culinary adventure I will be embarking on (more than that later),  I thought I’d take a few moments and indulge in a little fun… especially since my youngest turned 13 today and fun is certainly one way to keep me from an overdose of nostalgia about when they were all babies.

The multi-talented Mitch Teemley nominated me for a Liebster Award recently, and I am excited to pass on my own nominations to you!  If you haven’t heard of this award, just know that it is a great way to get the word out about other bloggers you know and a nomination is a pretty sweet vote of confidence from a fellow blogger.

Mitch, please accept my gratitude for your nomination <insert curtsey here>.

I definitely recommend checking out his wonderful blog, The Power of Story, (and also his upcoming film, Over the Rhine)!

Of course, there are some rules, but they are just as fun. ;

RULES:

  • Thank the nominator (Thanks again!)
  • Answer the questions
  • Nominate others (though none of you are under any obligation to participate!)

So. First for my nominations. These are all blogs either of personal friends or blogs I have read some great content on and deserve more traffic (in my opinion):

Detective Gluck

You Can Trust Him

Theological Jon

The First Gleam of Dawn

Unto Christ’s Fullness

God’s Grace – God’s Glory!

Scott’s Blog – Jesus Be With You

Laura Bennett

Lilka Raphael – Author and Photographer

Lastly, the questions:

1. If you could be any animal on earth, what would it be and why?  A swallow. I adore watching them swoop and dive like little feathered masters of the air. What it must feel like to fly that way!

2. If you had to write the soundtrack of your life, what would be the first three songs?  Eh… I’m too tired to decide. Probably something like

3. If your death was imminent, what would you choose as your last meal?   The Bread of Life and Living Water – kind of like an appetizer before the great feast.

4. What movie that has not yet been made would you pay good money to see?   Yeah… not so sure. I like movies but I am cheap and would still prefer a good book or a nice, long hike.

5. What was your favorite age to be and why?  Maybe 30 ?? All three kids were babies and every day had built-in entertainment.

6. What is the one book that has most inspired your writing and/or life?  The Bible is definitely tops. The first time I read it all the way through, I came out a different person on the other side. Outside of the Bible, maybe G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters… 

7. If you could live anywhere you please, without that pesky restraint called money, where would it be and why?  Somewhere with a gorgeous view of either the mountains (Smokies, Rockies… not too picky) and/or a gorgeous view of a natural beach with no condos/other houses in sight… but maybe a few live oaks. Why? because I love, love, love to see the beauty of creation and the wonder of the creatures my Father has populated it with. But I do not love crowds, concrete, and exhaust fumes.

 

Going to the Dogs… or Maybe Not

My husband and I have developed our own dog ranking system, partially in jest and partly because…  well, partly because.

In order, the Official Davis Hierarchy is:

  1. Good Dog
  2. Has Potential
  3. Bad Dog

Allow me to embellish.

This is Mayumi:

Yumi001
Mayumi

Mayumi is a Good Dog.

She is very obedient… with occasional exceptions, typically because I haven’t given her adequate exercise. When small children are over, she’s gentle and submissive. As for tricks, she can jump through hoops, sit, stay, high-five with alternating paws, close the door (well, sometimes), and play dead.

As a puppy, she would lay quietly in her crate as long as she could see me. Mayumi is my loyal companion who follows me from room to room and generally wants to be near me. She is calm and can be trusted with people of all ages and animals of all sizes. I love this dog!

This is Chestnut:

Chestnut Has Potential.

For the most part, he is obedient (even coming when called more faithfully than Mayumi), but he does lack self-control.

He absolutely adores people – exuberantly adores them with wild, oafish boundings and clumsy gyrations that threaten the vertical stability of moderately sized humans. Chestnut also has trouble holding his licker and frequently leaves slobber trails on… well, everything.

Due to his… ah, enthusiasm… we crate him when small children or elderly people are visiting. Not all furry things that enter our yard survive – except the three skunks that got him first (honestly, three times !!! Sheesh!!).

My husband and I joke that his tombstone will read RIP Chestnut: He Had Potential. 

I have no pictures of Sable, but she was aptly named. Sable was a Bad Dog.

In the brief time she lived with us, she managed to frighten the children (who were still very young), lose all off-leash privileges inside and outside the house, and made me rue the day I first saw her.

On her second and final chance off leash in our yard, this demon dog attacked me. Fortunately, I had some training in judo and her snarling challenge went rather badly for her. I walked away from the encounter carrying her by the scruff, angry but unhurt.

Sable became a junkyard dog.

…And this is our Miscreant thinning the herd of origami reindeer given us by the talented Mr. Leonard Gluck.:

But he’s in a different class entirely.

These animals -or more specifically, their rankings – remind me of myself.

Before I came to know and love the Most High God, I was as dark-hearted as Sable, a miscreant in an altogether separate category – an aimless and nameless wastrel.

But instead of meting out the death penalty I had earned, God did something altogether unexpected and remarkable: He sent His only Son to live out a pure human life without sin and then to die in my place. He – Yeshua Messiah – satisfied justice as the spotless atoning sacrifice; the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

When I deserved pitiless death, I received mercy… and yet God did not stop there. With grace beyond my wildest reckoning, He raised His Son to life again – and promised if I would unite myself with the Son by dying to my own selfish nature and desires, I would be granted a share of His resurrection, too!

Although I was a reprobate, the King called me Daughter.

Although I deserve to pay for my sins, He not only forgave my debt but lavished upon me a spiritual inheritance of inestimable value. What’s more, He has brought light and life to all that was darkened and deadened within me.

My Lord and my God! May the wonder of it all never cease to astonish me!

If I truly love Him for this incredible gift, my life ought to reflect nothing short of complete devotion and steadfast loyalty to Him.

Kind of like Mayumi is with me.

Where He is, I want to be. When He commands; I want to obey promptly. Though I may slip up from time to time, I earnestly desire to be fully His, wholly trusting Him and trusted by Him around people of all ages.

May I never be a casual partaker of Grace, giving the Almighty a perfunctory nod as I tuck His gift carelessly in a pocket while asking Him to bless my self-determined course!

In short, I do not want to a disciple who merely Has Potential…

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:9-10

On the way out the door~~

Loved this post from Inspiration with an Attitude! Maybe I just needed a reminder that the presence of a promise doesn’t preclude the need of a battle or two (or three, etc.)…

INSPIRATION with an ATTITUDE

IMG_20150103_172451138Remember sending your kiddo off to kindergarten that first day?  Or camp?  Or that first solo in the car? (GAG!) Or college?  I remember the anxiety of allowing our teenage girls to go on month-long mission trips out of the country. The first one was to Hong Kong when it was still under British rule, and I found out (after the fact) that my 14-year-old smuggled Bibles into China.  She assured me it was safe. 

Because 14-year-olds know these things.

On one such excursion, one of our daughters reported that when she arrived at the staging complex, there signs posted everywhere that read “CALL YOUR MOTHER!”  Somebody there must have compassionately understood.

Now, by the grace of God, all three of our children have

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Renovation

This is my living room right now:

WIN_20170725_12_25_07_Pro

You’ll note the assorted pieces of a sleigh bed stashed behind the couch or atop the dog crate, the random rolled-up rug, my messy desk devoid of my photo processing desktop computer, the filing cabinet adorned with two lamps, and so on. If you could look to the right, you’d see a couple of dressers, assorted computer parts, a couple of nightstands, and a whole lot of homeless junk.

Not far beyond that lies a room which used to sport yellow and red handprints on a cheerful blue background, custom cabinets filled with curriculum and home school supplies, three desks, and a whiteboard.

Now the walls are muted to a neutral gray, the paint-stained carpet has been replaced with vinyl planking, and the room currently houses the planking and materials for a new flooring project.

I assure you, this is not the normal state of affairs at our home; we are in a state of flux. My husband has a little breather in his crazy work schedule and we are beginning  a long-desired (and possibly long overdue) removal of the carpet in as many places as we can afford.

Why am I telling you this?

I suppose it is metaphorical. My entire life is in the midst of remodeling project.

One week from today, all three of my children will attend the first day at Zion Christian Academy.  In other words, one week from today, I will officially be out of a job.

Naturally, I will still be parenting. I am assured that job has no end; only changing requirements. But for the first time in 16 years, the full-time parenting, shepherding, and educating of my children that is homeschooling will be at an end. We are in a state of total transition.

So what now? I wish I knew.

Just as this shuffling of furniture brings about much reorganizing and re-evaluating of possessions, so also I am finding myself sorting through many familiar habits and routines and trying to discern which ones will need to stay and which need to be tossed. Some I know must stay – my time with God, my study of His Word; these are non-negotiable. Others, well… we shall see.

Also, as the gutting of rooms brings many discoveries – some of great value like a letter to me from one of the kids when they were young; some less wonderful, like the cigarette butt left beneath the carpet by the builders – so I am finding many discoveries beneath the surface of my life.

Some are bittersweet – an increased intentionality in my time with the kids as the quantity of time together naturally diminishes. Still, each precious moment with my brood is so much sweeter even as they become more rare, so there is great joy.

Other findings are less lovely, like the lack of a college degree coming back to haunt me – the carelessly discarded stub of a reckless and wasted youth buried for years beneath the duties of a homeschool mom.

So today at the age of 43, I am sifting through the topsy-turvy assortment of abilities and desires that have shaped my life, evaluating them for usefulness during this next season, exposing them to my God for examination, and seeking His help in deciding what to keep and what to discard.

At this crossroads, I do not know which direction to take. Until I do, I will simply stand, prayerfully exploring my options and ready to obey once the order is given. It is a season of transition; a humbling time of reckoning for past decisions and a painful exercise in trusting God to reveal His purposes for me. During it all, I doggedly cling to the promise that His grace is sufficient for me even as I survey the wreckage necessary for renovation.

And I praise Him that no matter how crazy or hopeless things look to me now, the work He is doing will be well worth it in the end. Just like our new floors.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…

…And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:25-26, 28

Meet and Greet

Welcome!
I thought I would try something new today and host a Meet and Greet to meet other bloggers and to provide an opportunity to promote your blog.

That being said, I would like to do things a little bit differently: I want everyone who comments to promote two blogs, starting with someone else’s blog and then telling a little about your own. If possible, try to mention a blogger that you know of who is either new to blogging or needs a little leg-up for building traffic to their blog.

To demonstrate, I’ll start us off:

I would love for you to check out a newcomer to WordPress: Mr. Leonard Gluck.  You can find his wonderful blog at https://detectivegluck.wordpress.com/ where you will find downloadable Power Point presentations covering a wide variety of topics in creation and some of his own origami creations.

Mr. Gluck has a knack for highlighting fascinating facts about the creatures he runs across and the spiritual lessons that he learns while studying them. His downloadable presentations are an excellent and interesting addition to any home school or for any nature lover whatever the school choice!

An avid origami artist, he has also enjoys weaving either science or Bible lessons into his paper creations. Before he started his blog, I had the privilege of videoing him teaching the steps to one of his own origami creations. I encourage you to check out Detective Gluck!

As for me… well, this is my space and you can poke around. I enjoy writing about my spiritual journey. The many Biblical references about walking with God or comparing the spiritual journey to a race resonate with me as a person who loves to walk, run, hike, or just be out in creation worshiping the Creator,  hence the name of the blog. This is about my race, including trials and triumphs as well as what God teaches me through them.

Please comment below! I look forward to hearing from you, even if it takes me some time to make it over to your blog due to a busy season of life. I will get there sooner or later – that’s a promise!