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

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

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

A Bit of an Honest Rant

For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

2Chronicles 20:12

This crazy year…

It’s possible I may ruffle a few feathers or step on some toes here, but may I say I’m an equal opportunity ruffler? I try to dishevel and tread equally without taking sides… except the Lord’s side. When it comes to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I won’t budge a millimetre. I belong to Him, you see.

So anyway…

We kicked off 2020 with wildfires in Australia. Of course, there was also the now-standard biological dementia which is Relativism’s crowning achievement… and it’s all been downhill from there.

A global pandemic, COVID-19, brought widespread lock-downs and economic closures, disrupting the rhythms of an entire planet.

In its wake came economic instability, fear, and the inevitable conspiracy theories. These began a fatal feedback loop, drawing fear out of a tense environment, amplifying it, and pumping it back into the social current.

Thus was born COVID-Madness. Riding the wave of this new socio-psychological pathology came a series of social-media opinion wars cleverly disguised as “facts.”

The pandemic is real and will kill all of us. The numbers of COVID deaths are crazily high, killing more people than the seasonal flu – and here’s a graph to prove it.

NO, the numbers are inflated by the rich and powerful for… reasons. The flu kills more people – and here’s a graph to prove it.

You’re a hopelessly deluded sheep if you wear a mask in public.

You’re a callous, selfish humanity-hater if you don’t wear a mask in public.

People, we need a vaccine to fix this thing so we don’t all die!

No, the vaccine is an evil plot to microchip everyone and infect them with retroviruses so the rich and powerful can become richer and more powerful …

(…I suppose so they can spend their vaccine-inflated wealth burying everyone they slaughtered with their vile plan as they skillfully document graves via microchip technology, then dance about a lonely world populated solely by giant murder hornets and other wealthy mask-wearing vaccine-givers, clutching their money and laughing manically ???)

Thanks, guys. All very helpful and supportive. Really, we needed more division in the country. And this only gets us through April or so.

As if my country wasn’t already on edge, yet another series of what appeared to be racially-motivated killings slammed racial tensions back to the forefront. Many people I love who happen to have more melanin in their skin are hurting and angry – for good reason. I am hurting and angry.

I may be a white woman but I’m still human. So are my brown friends and family. The last thing I want is for a single one of them to be gunned down in the privacy of their home, chased down and shot in the streets, have the life literally squeezed out of them, or some other atrocity all due to a social sickness birthed in slavery and perpetrated by the bizarre human love-affair with evil, division, self, and sin.

Protests were begun – rightly so. But of course, peaceful protests have a tendency to morph into riots. Especially when a country is already pregnant with unrest from a pandemic, quarantines and lockdowns, disinformation wars, and financial trouble.

And July is just around the corner…

Perhaps this is the cat the ancient Egyptians worshiped borne on the Saharan dust cloud, awakened from his slumber by the quaking world and infuriated by the general maelstrom of social media babble?

I confess: Some days I am just tired.

Tired of hearing angry rhetoric and useless hype.

Tired of social justice movements that ignore actual justice from the perspective of the One who not only made the world but is its sole rightful Judge. Not to mention bearing the only correct assessment of right and wrong by merit of creating all the things…

Tired of a Church too willing to adopt social trends and too lax in her handling of the Word of Truth. (Note: I don’t mean a specific church body but the American church in general here…)

Tired of a people who are too busy defending their opinions to listen to the voices of others; too busy to listen to the Voice of Truth.

Tired of trying to speak of my God only to find my voice is only adding to the global cacophony.

And yet, I dare not stop speaking. I dare not stop trying. Lives are at stake. Eternally.

Lord, guide my words and my heart. Let them both be pure before You and purely Yours. You are the answer – the ONLY answer – to the problems we face. And though we may not like to hear it, the answer lies not necessarily in the here and now but in eternity.

In this world, we will have trouble. You have promised it! But in Your Son and through Your Spirit, we may also have peace – shalom – and we can take heart, because Your Son has already overcome the world. Help me remember that no matter how large the horde of propaganda is, this battle is Yours and Yours alone, amen.

… Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.

2 Chronic;es 20:15b

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)