Wise Authenticity

We live in a world of filters . . . of staging and editing and careful presentation . . . a world where people would much rather post the life they wish they had than live the life they actually have.

Inauthentic . . .

Fake . . .

Doctored . . .

I think most of us could do with a dose of authenticity and reality. I always appreciate a person willing to share their very real struggles whether that be face to face, in real life, or on social media. I always appreciate an unfiltered and honest post on Instagram or a real life story shared over a cup of coffee. And I think it is so important that we’re willing to share who we really are and the challenges we’re really facing.

But there is a vast difference between being authentic and real and putting all your personal business (that is meant to stay personal), every single argument, thought, and opinion out there for the world to read, see, and hear. There’s a fine line between authenticity and reality and oversharing and saying far too much. Some things, some thoughts, some feelings, and yes, some arguments, are meant to stay within the confines of your actual life with those with which you are the closest and trust the most.

Once you put something out there, you may be able to delete it, but the damage done is not always easily rectified. Words spoken, typed, and shared can not just be taken back. And if you’ve put it in front of an audience of tens or hundreds that only multiplies the hurt. The five or thirty seconds it took to type, say, share, or post those words can make for days, weeks, months, or even years of heartache.

I think social media is the worst in this regard, and we must be so cautious because we too often forget that behind the receiving end of that screen is a real person . . . a real person with very real feelings . . . a real person that Jesus loves deeply and that we’re called to love. And those words that are so easy to put out there can do such immense harm to others and to our witness.

We have such an amazing tool in social media, in the internet, in technology, in the ability to reach tens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions with just a touch of our phone screen, tablet, or computer. But it is also a very dangerous weapon if not used properly. And the rules haven’t changed y’all. We’re called to love God and love others . . . and if the things we say and do are pointing others anywhere but to Christ, we’re missing the mark.

“And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

We should not be calling out our family and friends on social media. If you have an issue, talk about it, in person. But don’t air all of your dirty laundry in front of 500 of your closest friends.

Further, we must use discretion in what we post and repost, what we choose to share and say. We have must stop using authenticity, moral arguments, and freedom as an excuse for sin (Galatians 5:13) . . . for sinful words, thoughts, actions, and behaviors towards and in regards to others. What we say, what we do, and what we share/repost all matter.

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32

I would be lying if I said I’ve never made this mistake. So I won’t tell you that. What I will tell you is that I’ve regretted it every time I’ve said too much, engaged when I shouldn’t have, chosen to be “loud” and obnoxious rather than use discretion, and with each passing year, I’m more guarded about what I share and don’t share. Yes, I will continue to stand up for what I believe is morally and biblically right. That’s not changing. Yes, I still love to share snapshots of our lives here and there, but some things, some discussions, some thoughts are best left to in person, in real life, sharing where we can look one another in the eye and remember that we’re not just talking to a screen. I don’t want to be a sounding brass or clanging cymbal. I want to walk in love whether it be with those reading what I’m putting online or those in my actual, real life. And sometimes, it’s best to close (or delete) the app, to stop scrolling, put your phone away, and live your life fully present where you are with those you love the most.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:1-3‬ ‭

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

We Have Not Forgotten

Twenty years . . .

It seems like just yesterday . . .

It seems like an eternity has passed . . .

We now have a generation of young people who have no idea what it was like to live in a pre 9/11 world. A world where the threat of terrorism was not constantly at the forefront of our collective minds. A world where an attack on our own soil was unthinkable. We have an entire generation that only knows a post 9/11 world.

I vividly remember that Tuesday morning . . . it was a beautiful day . . . a day that started so normally . . . a day that ended so tragically.

I remember the horror of watching the towers fall . . . the thousands of lives lost, stolen, murdered . . . the tears that fell . . . the slowly dawning awareness that the United States of America was under attack . . . the absolute heartbreak and devastation of it all.

I remember, in the deepest part of me, the heaviness of those days that followed . . . the way we all walked through each passing moment in utter shock . . . trying to process the reality of what had happened.

I remember a nation that turned toward God and one another. A people that united, both physically and emotionally, to stand against the terror that had come to our shores.

I remember.

I will never forget.

We must remember.

We must never forget.

For our nation . . . for our world . . . for every single life lost, family whose loved one did not come home, child who was raised without their mother or father . . .

We remember . . . 9/11/2001 . . .

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

Hearing God’s Voice in a Very Loud World . . .

The word of God doesn’t change to fit me. Instead, as I read and study and seek God and pray, I am changed and transformed through His word. I firmly believe, I cannot be transformed apart from His word.

Ephesians 5:25-26 is speaking to husbands in regards to loving their wives as Christ loves the church, but verse 26 says this, “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the word.” The word of God washes and cleanses us. It’s not a subsidiary to our ever evolving and growing relationship with Christ. The word of God is an integral and irreplaceable part of our growth and transformation.

People often ask, “How do you hear from God?”

First, I hear from God through teaching and preaching of others. I listen and seek the wisdom of others as they teach God’s word. But it shouldn’t be the only way any of us hear from God. We should also seek to have a personal relationship and walk with Him.

God can and does “speak” directly to me, but it’s not an actual, audible voice. I’m not saying it can’t happen. I’ll just say that it’s not super common. For lack of a better way of putting it, the Holy Spirit speaks to my spirit. Sounds kind of hokey and Christian-ese, I know, but it’s not a feeling or an idea that comes from me. It’s far deeper than that. It’s a knowing that God is speaking through His spirit to me.

But how do you know it’s God? How do you know it’s not you? Or how do you know that the other person, that person preaching and teaching, isn’t just putting their own spin on things?

The bible . . . God’s Word . . .that’s how I know. Everything must line up with God’s word. No exceptions. I must be teachable (we all need to be teachable), and I must take the time to dive into the scriptures, the actual bible, for myself so I am able to know what is and is not lining up with the bible.

The best pastor, teacher, evangelist in the world can give a powerful and amazing sermon, but if I can’t go back to the bible and see clearly that it’s in agreement with scripture then I will not accept it. Bottom line. Further, no one, because we are human, is going to get it right 100% of the time. If you find that you follow, almost blindly, anything another person says, especially if you really have to stretch to try and make it come into agreement with the Bible, that’s a problem. That doesn’t mean they’re not saved or not a great preacher, teacher, etc., but it means that you’re putting that person, that imperfect human, in a place they should never be. You can love and respect a person without agreeing with every single thing they say. On the other hand, if someone you are following is consistently teaching things that don’t line up with God’s word, putting their own ideas and completely different revelations on what has been clear and solid interpretation (based on study of the original text) for hundreds of years, if you’re hearing things like “It has always been taught this way, but that’s wrong . . . ” or “God gave me a fresh revelation about this scripture [that no one else has ever had]”, and it’s takes twisting and turning and a lot of acrobatics to see it their “way”, then alarm bells should be going off. The bible is the most uncomplicated, complicated book of all time. It’s depth and wisdom are unsurpassed (thus the “complicated”), but it is also meant to be read and understood by you and by me. Yes, there are times when I pull up the lexicons and the original text, when I look at commentaries regarding certain, more difficult passages, but also, as long as the translation is solid (again, no one should be adding their own ideas) then it means what it says, and it says what it means. Period.

On a personal level, God rarely speaks to me when I’m not actively studying His word and praying. And when He does it’s usually a prompting to get back into His Word because I’ve neglected it (yep, I mess this up sometimes). I’m not talking about reading a devotional or a book by a Christian teacher or author or listening to a sermon or teaching. Those have their place, but they should never replace time alone with your Bible and God. I often listen to teachings while going about my day, but my time with God is strictly my time with God and His word. No other voices aside from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are allowed to speak into that time, and I only hear God clearly when I’m taking the time to study the Bible and seek Him. I’d say that’s the rule rather than exception.

John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word is Jesus y’all. If you want to know what The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, three persons, have to say about something crack open your bible. That doesn’t mean that I necessarily have the bible sitting open in front of me at that exact moment I feel the Holy Spirit is speaking to me, but it does mean that I’m making a point to seek Him regularly . . . to dive into the scriptures on a very consistent basis . . . to get that scripture inside of me (Psalm 119:11) and ask Him to reveal Himself to me through His word.

And if something I’m “hearing”, either from others or in my own head, doesn’t line up with the word, whether that be obvious or maybe it’s just a bit off from what I’m reading, then I know it’s not God. Everything God is speaking, to me and to others, must pass through the litmus test of the bible before I will accept it. Everything.

Reading the bible is both a privilege and a discipline. Little side note: Discipline is not a naughty word.

A privilege because most of us are incredibly blessed to be able to freely read God’s word. There are areas of the world where access to the bible is unattainable at best and criminal at worst, and yet, Christians in those places will do almost anything to get their hands on the scriptures (not a devotional, not someone’s book, but the actual Word of God).

But it’s also a discipline. And it’s not because I have to be disciplined and work to achieve my salvation. It’s not because God is keeping track of how many minutes and chapters I read. Salvation is freely given because Jesus died and was resurrected for us. Romans 10:9 “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The only thing you have to do to achieve salvation is accept it. But that’s just the starting point. So many Christians are living confused and defeated lives because they seek salvation but stop there. They don’t seek growth and change. And the pathway to growth and change through the Holy Spirit is intricately intertwined with being in His word. If you want to grow . . . if you want to change . . . if you want to be transformed . . . you need to be reading your bible.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

I’ll say it louder for the people in the back. If you want to renew your mind . . . if you want to know God’s will for your life . . . if you want peace and guidance . . . it’s, without exception, found in His word.

Lest anyone think I’m perfect, I often have to discipline myself to sit down with God’s word . . . to take the time to study. And you know what? Sometimes I don’t do it. Like anything else, there are times when I just don’t “feel” like it. There are times, far more than I care to admit, when I’m too busy and need to get all the things done, but y’all every time I neglect to spend time studying and praying, every time I put other things in first place, I find myself out of balance and off-kilter.

* This isn’t the first time I’ve addressed this. For more on bible translations and studying and seeking God click here and here.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author. 

Hope in this Crazy World . . .

I started with the word hope . . . it is something that has been running through my head for weeks. How do you quantify hope? How do you explain that it is far more than just an elusive idea, but is instead a solid concept built on faith not in ourselves or the universe or the world around us but in a God that loves us deeply and unconditionally? How do you convince others to hold on to hope when they are struggling to just get through the next minute? I just couldn’t figure out how to pull it all together.

I’m tired. These last few weeks have been a little challenging and a lot of crazy. A quick bullet list run down lest anyone think my life is picture perfect (as if):

  • I got chased by three dogs and bitten by one while running a few weeks ago which resulted in an ER trip and (lots of) rabies shots. Zero stars . . . do not recommend.
  • A frog got in my house. My son got him out.
  • A mouse got in my house. I screamed. My husband saved it.
  • My youngest got some sort of crud. Two doctor’s visits later . . . not strep . . . not COVID . . . just crud. She typically doesn’t like to share, but she went ahead and shared with her brother. Fun times.
  • Our AC broke. It’s 1,000,000 degrees in Texas. Five minutes without AC is 10 minutes too long.
  • I thought we (by “we” I mean our house) had termites for a hot minute. We don’t. Thank you Jesus.
  • I’m sick of COVID. We all are. And watching the cases tick up in the schools is not helping. The other day I actually googled, not for the first time, but I’m hoping the last time (because it’s a colossal waste of time and not my proudest of moments), “When will this pandemic end?” True stupid story . . . but also, I believe that God has given us the miracle of modern medicine and the gift of wisdom. I’m thankful for and appreciate both.

While I certainly wasn’t feeling even close to hopeless, I was definitely having a moment over all the craziness. So I wrote the word hope and then thought, “I got nothin’.” I was feeling worn out and anxious, and we all know that anxiety is a master liar.

The reality is, I actually have so much, and my little bulleted list of problems is really quite trivial and in some respects, worthy of a few laughs. Does God care? Absolutely, because that’s WHO He is. He cares about it all. So I never want to minimize anything anyone is going through. But here’s the thing, I have a friend whose precious little one has been battling sepsis, who has been intubated and extubated, and fighting all the things in the PICU for days on end. His little body is in so much pain, and yet, there is still hope. I was reading about a 13 year old, the same age as my own son, recently diagnosed with a rare and hard to treat liver cancer. So much grief and heartache and confusion and pain for a person so young, but he still has tremendous hope. My prayer list of friends and family who are mourning loved ones, battling cancer and other illnesses, and struggling with serious issues is entirely too long, and still, they bring hope to those around them. Christians around the world are fighting for their lives . . . not for their “rights”, but for their actual lives, and yet, they worship without abandon, they praise without hesitation, and are filled with hope.

Here’s what I know.

Hope isn’t happiness.

Hope doesn’t mean things are perfect or even good.

Hope doesn’t mean that everything is going our way.

Hope is so much deeper. So much more. It’s what fills the gaps and keeps us moving forward not just when things are good, but especially when things are hard. Hope is what rushes in in the midst of battle, what pours over us when we are full of grief, and what makes us put one foot in front of the other when we don’t think we can.

Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith – faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness

Substance – a support, substance, steadiness, assurance

Evidence – a proof, possibly: a persuasion; reproof

Faith is what gives hope wings. It’s what makes it more than just a pie-in-the-sky unrealistic emotion. Faith is what makes it solid. We trust that there is an assurance, a persuasion, and a proof behind our hope because we trust that even if it all comes crashing down, even if we’re still dealing with this pandemic a year or ten years from now (I pray not), we have the hope of Christ and eternity with Him, and that can never be taken away.

So while I guess I have more than “nothin'” in regards to the subject of hope, I will say that nothing I have to say tonight is deeply profound. Some of you are tired. Some of you are worn out. Many of you are living in that place of simultaneous sadness and joy, of happiness and heartbreak. And all of that’s okay. Some of you may even be in that place of hopelessness, and if that’s you please know that you are not alone in this. You are deeply loved by a Heavenly Father who truly understands and feels every heartbreak and heartache you feel, and I pray that wherever you are, you find yourself surrounded by the physical hands and feet of Jesus here on this earth. I pray for the Holy Spirit to comfort you and surround you with deep, unexplainable peace.

No matter what comes may we hold onto hope.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

*Note – I think it’s very important to seek qualified professional help if you find yourself in a place where you cannot dig out of the hopelessness. There is absolutely no shame in getting help. Please reach out to someone that has the qualifications to walk with you through this and help you come out on the other side. As always, I am here to pray and support and be a friend to those around me, but I am NOT a professional counselor or therapist.

Though None Go With Me . . .

“Do not let us mistake necessary evils for good.”
― C.S. Lewis

It seems like more and more often, within the church, we are looking at what are “necessary evils” and calling them “good”. Sometimes, we compromise and justify our choices and actions with the argument that we are choosing the lesser of two evils . . . presented with two (or more choices), none of them great, some of them downright awful, we choose the one that is the least harmful. Sometimes, unfortunately, that cannot be avoided. But it seems that, more often than not, we cannot even refer to our choices as a compromise. We are not acknowledging the reality of the situation and our justifications but instead, are diving in head first, gleefully participating in all that goes along with the justification of sin.

Make no mistake. Wrong is wrong. And standing up to and speaking out against one wrong, doesn’t justify or moralize another. It doesn’t excuse, give permission, or mean that we are accepting, promoting, or buying into another wrong. It just says that we have decided that following Jesus means we’re uncompromising on all fronts, and that standing up to wrong is going to often be a lonely place in which to be found, but at the end of it all, we live on this earth for the briefest of times but will answer for our choices eternally.

There is an old saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I’d go so far as to say, “The road to hell is paved with small, seemingly innocuous compromises.”

Compromise has brought us to a dangerous and destructive place within the church and throughout our nation and our world. Failure to recognize and bring wrong actions, words, and behaviors to light . . . failure to refuse to compromise . . . idolizing and placing things of the world in positions in which they were never meant to be has done harm to both our witness and our walk with Christ.

If it . . . be it a person, be it words, be it actions , or be it beliefs . . . even when it is someone or something seemingly “on our side” . . . doesn’t line up with God’s word, then we must unwaveringly stand against it. Can we be gracious? Absolutely. Can we be loving? Yes, and we should. But we must remain uncompromising in standing for right and selflessness in a world and a culture that stand for anything and everything but.

“Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” Romans 1:21-25

There is an old hymn of which we know little of the its origins, but the words have had a lasting impact on Christians for decades . . . I Have Decided to Follow Jesus . . . and the stanza that always stands out to me is as follows

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Are we willing to go where even other Christians refuse to go? Are we willing to remain uncompromising in the face of unrelenting compromise? It’s something I ponder and pray about daily. That God would grant me the strength and courage to stand on the convictions of His word even if I stand alone.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

Your Will, My Will, and God’s Will

Does God’s will always happen?

It seems like a simple yes or no question. Yet, it’s so much more complex than just yes or no. It’s so much more nuanced than just “Yes, it does” or “No, it does not”.

  1. I believe that God is fully in control.
  2. I believe that nothing happens that does not pass through His hand.
  3. BUT . . . I also believe that not everything that happens in our day to day lives is part of His perfect will for us.
  4. I believe He allows certain things to play out because, in the context of His overarching, beginning to end, unthwartable will for all of mankind and eternity, we have been given free will.

Uncomplicated this is not.

We are not puppets on a string. Nor are we actors in a cosmic play where the script cannot be altered. We have been given the ability to make choices . . . to choose to follow God’s leading for our lives or not . . . and with those decisions come consequences.

Every single day we make decisions. We decide whether to seek God, to spend time in His word, to pray, to live out what He has called us to or not. We make decisions regarding relationships . . . ya’ll divorce, abuse, affairs, broken marriages, and broken families . . . none of it has ever been in God’s perfect plan. We make decisions regarding our personal health . . . we have the free will to decide what we put into our bodies and how we care for our bodies, but at the same time we are also making decisions that will have consequences affecting our health and often our life span. We make decisions involving work, leisure time, our families, and our futures. And all of these decisions have consequences for ourselves and for others.

Some of those consequences are “good”.

Some are “bad”.

Some aren’t of particular importance.

Some are minor.

Some major.

Some neutral.

Some will affect us and others not just here on earth but eternally.

We live in a fallen and broken world. When Eve listened to the serpent, and Adam chose to follow Eve in that decision, sin entered in. So often I hear the question, “How could God let this happen?” And every single time, my answer which may seem overly simplistic, maybe even flippant in its brevity, is anything but. We live in a fallen, broken world ruled by Satan. (Stay with me here because it’s not all doom and gloom. There is good news to come.)

And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11

“The LORD is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

God’s will was never for mankind to turn from Him or be ruled by sin, and yet, we did. God’s will has always been for us to spend eternity with Him. Yet, everyday people make the choice to reject Him. They make the decision to walk out their lives and spend eternity without Him, and He allows it. Not because He’s not loving. He is. Not because it doesn’t break His heart. It does, but God did not create pre-programmed robots. He created mankind with the free will to choose the path we will follow.

Last week I wrote, When It All Feels Heavy, and the reality is, as the week wore on the heaviness grew. I sat last night and watched the news angry and heartbroken. Angry at choices made that led to outcomes that should never have happened. Heartbroken for the immense loss being suffered by so many. And as I watched, I wondered on a very personal and maybe seemingly selfish level, “How will this affect the lives of my children?” Because it’s already destroying lives both half a world away and right here on U.S. soil.

So I circle back to the question, “Does God’s will always happen?”

And the answer is both yes and no. While it’s complicated to explain and grasp, it’s not contradictory. While I sometimes have trouble wrapping my mind around the complexity of it all, I also can stand in place where two things are true at once . . . God knows every single second of my life . . .

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

every choice I will make, every outcome even to my very last breath on this earth

AND

I have free will to make the choices and decisions that will affect those outcomes.

I promised there was good news, and y’all, it is so good. Because Jesus came to earth, fully God and fully man, and sacrificed His life for our sins (John 3:16), we can live a life that may be imperfect but that is marked by a confidence in knowing not only what our future ultimately holds but Who it is that holds that future both here on earth and beyond. He didn’t just die, He took all of the sins for all eternity upon Himself. Can you imagine the crushing weight of carrying the sins of all of mankind ever? Yet, His love for us is so profoundly and infinitely deep that He willingly did that. When the word says that He is not willing that “any should perish” it truly means any. But you have to accept His salvation. With that acceptance comes a hope and joy and a peace in the midst of all the hard and the scary of this life and this world. Because there is a victory in life with Jesus that is irrevocable. And that, my friends, is the very best news. Yes, you still will have free will and choices to make, but you make them knowing that God is guiding you, and if and when you do veer off track, if you live a life submitted to Him, He’s ready to gently lead you back.

One day, in what I firmly believe is the not so distant future, the word of God says “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Philippians 2:10), and this won’t be optional. Because God’s plan for the world and mankind will play out according to His will, and we will either bow willingly or unwillingly . . . but bow we all will.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

When It All Feels Heavy

Haiti

Afghanistan

COVID-19

Politics

Division

Starvation

Persecution

Hatred

Sickness

Disease

Death

Destruction

Christians fleeing

Fathers pleading

Hearts broken

Lives devastated

This week has felt heavy, but if I’m being real, for so many the heavy has been around for a long time.

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.” Corrie Ten Boom

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is the everlasting strength. For He brings down those who dwell on high, the lofty city; He lays it low, he lays it low to the ground, He brings it down to the dust. The foot shall tread it down – the feet of the poor and the steps of the needy.” Isaiah 26:3-6

“LORD, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us.” Isaiah 26:12

Peace – Shalom – “completeness, soundness, welfare”

Peace has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on around us, and everything to do with the ONE who lives in us and reigns over us. It feels like the world is on fire. The stories we are hearing are absolutely devastating. Even here, on U.S. soil, chaos seems to reign. COVID-19 is rising, and everyone is fighting. But none of that can steal our peace if we keep our eyes on God.

AND . . . Make no mistake . . . God is at work . . .

Followers of Christ are under intense persecution in many parts of the world. At the same time, amidst that horrendous persecution, the church is growing exponentially. Here, in the west, we must not become so used to our lives of comfort, so far removed from what is happening half a world away or even in our own backyards, so busy arguing over masks and vaccines and politics and every other distraction that the devil throws our way, that we fail to recognize the hugeness of what is happening.

In every crisis, be it personal or corporate, we have two choices. We can blame God, get angry, and turn away, or we can remember that we live in a fallen and broken world where Satan wants nothing more than to destroy every single piece and part of God’s creation. Our battle is absolutely not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), but we have a Savior who defeated the devil . . . who shed His blood and paid the highest price to redeem us. Come life or come death, if you know Jesus, you have the victory. The world may be burning, but it is setting the stage for the Holy Spirit to move like never before. The persecution may continue to increase and grow, I actually believe it will, but the church, throughout history, has only grown under persecution. And I believe the fire the devil set to destroy is instead going to fan the flames in the hearts of Christians around the globe.

Let’s not sit on the sidelines. Let’s not let our desire for ease and comfort make us miss out on what is both difficult and beautiful. Let us not miss out on the hard and the holy of it all.

The question remains, “What can we do?” We still have bills to pay and jobs to show up for and children to raise. Is there really anything we can do about the horrors playing out around the world? Is there really any way I can affect change and reach others for Jesus?

Pray – We must begin and end and carry through it all with prayer. Constant and continual prayer. When all we can do is pray, I believe we’re finally at the point where we’re doing the most.

Give – Whether we like it or not, money is how things get done in the world’s economy, and ministries around the world need financial resources. Samaritan’s Purse works here and around the world meeting the physical, medical, and spiritual needs of those they serve. They are currently on the ground in Haiti working to help those affected by the most recent earthquake. Global Catalytic Ministries serves in one of the most dangerous areas for Christians in the world, the Middle East where Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds, and they are actively looking for ways to move help and resources to those in Afghanistan. Those are just two ministries among hundreds. As always, give to international ministries but also give to local ministries . . . your church, women’s shelters, foster care organizations, adoption agencies . . . the need is huge everywhere.

Be the hands and feet of Jesus – Maybe you can’t go to Africa (or maybe you can), but can you teach Sunday School? Can you make a casserole for someone that is sick? Can you be a friend to someone in need? Wherever you find yourself, be Jesus to the people around you.

Be informed – We cannot live in denial to the things going on in this world. We cannot look at the tragedies around the world and think as long as they don’t cross our borders, we’re good. God, His love, His mercy, His saving grace, are not bound by borders nor should we be. We have been given so much, and we must take the great commission to heart, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all he nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God,” the late Bob Pierce. May this forever be our prayer and our heart’s cry.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

It’s Back to School We Go

It’s back to school time, and while I love all the fun that summer brings, I’m also not super sad about it.

For my youngest, it’s a return to a somewhat familiar routine, with a team of people that assist in helping her to learn the skills she needs to navigate this life successfully. It alleviates much of the pressure on me to constantly fill the roles of therapist and teacher and disciplinarian (not that these ever really go away or stop, but it’s the 24/7 aspect of it that can be challenging) in addition to just being mommy (the most important role). It facilitates and strengthens our bond as she continues to learn that we, as her parents, are a constant in an ever changing world. And she has fun and makes friends, and that’s kind of super important.

For my oldest, it’s a return to friends and a social life that’s not always the easiest to navigate with the families that attend our small school so spread out. It’s sports and challenging academics and trips and all the fun and hard things that come with growing up. As a teenager, he needs it. All of it.

So while we love and embrace summertime, and to some extent, mourn its rapidly approaching end, it’s also refreshing to dive back into the daily life of school. Last week I hopped on Instagram for a few minutes, and the first thing I saw was a story from a mom that I follow that was basically reaming other mothers who are glad to see the start of a new school year. It wasn’t merely the lamenting of the end of summer which I totally get. It was a post that, frankly, felt full of judgment and ridicule. I don’t think she set out to be hurtful in her words. I actually think she was attempting to encourage mothers to value quality time with their children. However, it just didn’t read in an encouraging way, and she was sure to point out that she would never be happy to see her children returning to school because she is a Godly mother that loves her children. Normally, I can let these things roll and move on, but something about the line she drew . . . the “we (good moms) vs. y’all (not so great moms)” mentality just hit wrong.

This person has a large-ish following (no I will not tell you who it is) and has no clue who I am so she’ll never see this post nor is that my intent. More than anything, I want to share the lesson I learned here. Aside from the fact that what she wrote/said struck me as immensely hurtful to so many, I realized that all too often that has been me. My confidence in myself and my abilities has bordered on self righteousness more than once, and the truth is we all have a tendency to fall into prideful thinking, to “toot our own horn”, if you will. But the reality is I need to tread carefully when making such comments and generalizations (I know I’ve failed at this a time or two or ten thousand). Maybe that mom that is glad to see school returning is struggling with a child with special needs and desperately needs a moment to breathe. Maybe it’s a working parent that is trying to navigate another crazy summer amidst COVID and ever changing child care situations. Maybe it’s just a mom that’s tired and overwhelmed. Or maybe, like me, that mom both loves summer but also, loves sending their kiddos back to the routine and structure of school. It doesn’t mean they don’t love or enjoy their children as much as the next person. It just means they feel differently in this moment. And the truth holds for any number of instances. If you haven’t been there, whatever there might represent in that moment, if you’re not living that person’s reality, then give them a break.

As the old proverb says, “There but for the grace of God go I.” The grace extended to me has been huge, especially in these past five or so years as we have navigated life with some special needs thrown in, and for me, a little grace and empathy can stretch for miles.

So back to school we go . . . and whether you’re packing backpacks and lunchboxes and sending your kids off to school or keeping them home and tackling all the hard and beautiful that is home schooling . . . or maybe, you’re somewhere in between . . . I’m praying that despite all the crazy, it’s the best year yet!

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

Mutually Inclusive Truths . . .

  • You can have a good, even great, thing going on

AND . . . ALSO

  • That good or great thing will still need work and effort to both maintain and spur growth.

________________________________

  • You can be content with your life . . . current living situation, work, marriage, and so on

AND . . . ALSO

  • I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, contentment does not mean complacency.

__________________________________

Working toward growth does not equal discontentment.

None of these are mutually exclusive statements but rather, are mutually inclusive truths.

Growth and movement are both necessary to avoid becoming stagnant, at best, or losing ground, at worst. We can be both content, at peace, with where we are in life and look at that good or great thing and acknowledge the importance of putting in the work and effort toward continued growth.

Contentment is a state of satisfaction in where we currently are in life while continually pushing through the process of growth in our walk with Christ, in our marriages, our families, and in our daily lives.

Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

These verses have so often been misused and misaligned as an excuse for laziness and lackadaisical living. But Paul’s intention was never a call to mediocrity.

Look up just a few verses to Philippians 3:12-16, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.”

Obviously, the prize to which Paul is referring is eternity in heaven with Jesus. However, the fact remains, that salvation is free, but we also must put in the continual effort, on our parts, to grow in our walk with Christ and live victoriously through Him. God will not force Himself upon us. He will not force us to pray, study, or seek Him. Further, the truth that continual effort is necessary holds not only in our relationship with Jesus but also in our relationships with others . . . our spouse, our family, our friends . . . it takes work to develop, maintain, grow, and avoid stagnation and atrophy in all of our relationships. It’s also worth noting that the closer we move toward Christ, the more in line everything else becomes. The more we live out what it looks like to have our priorities in proper order. Realizing the importance of contentment, no matter what “life” throws at us – knowing and believing that life is not always going to look perfect, but we know THE ONE who is perfect and can rest in that come good or bad – also means owning the danger that lies in a life of complacency, of drifting without purpose.

Our lives, our relationships, our day to day living, should be a testimony to Jesus. Our priorities and purposes should reflect Him in every way. We should daily press into Him and toward the goal(s) to which we’ve been called. We should be willing to put in the work and the effort in order to have the healthiest life, spiritually, physically, and emotionally, possible here on earth and facilitate and fuel continual and appropriate growth in every area and relationship He places on our hearts and in our paths.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

Money, Money, Money . . . Becoming One and Finances

Preface: This is part two of two posts regarding oneness in marriage. The first post, What’s Yours is Mine . . . What’s Mine is Yours . . . Two Becoming One, hits on a few things that can be very divisive and hinder the process of two becoming one (which is about far more than just physical intimacy). This post will focus more on finances and how proper management of finances within marriage can build unity while improper management will divide and destroy. As I said before, I am obviously no expert, and I really thought about not writing this post because I feel so unqualified to address this issue. But it has been on my heart for weeks, and usually, if a topic keeps coming back to me over and over it means I need to address it. So here you go. Take it, or if it’s not for you, feel more than free to leave it.

In my previous post I briefly addressed finances and the importance of sharing bank accounts . . . accounts is plural here because we learned early on in our marriage that in some instances, especially if you’re self employed or own a business, it works better and is wiser for you to have multiple separate but shared accounts where you both have full access in order to avoid any confusion . . . that is not the same thing as keeping your money separate, and I was incredibly resistant to even the idea of multiple accounts at first, but thankfully, I was able to see the wisdom in it after talking to people with a bit more experience. Having said that, sharing a bank account(s) is just the beginning of financial unity. Financial unity means that we understand that there is not only a tangible but also a spiritual side to our finances, and no matter what our current jobs/careers are, God is ultimately our provider and our source. And there are a few principles we have put in place to ensure that we are in unity when it comes to finances.

Principle Number One . . . tithing (10% of our income to our home church) and giving (no set amount but however and wherever God is leading us): These are non negotiables in our marriage, and I firmly believe are an integral part of a healthy marriage. Wait? What? What does tithing have to do with marriage? How are those things even related? I know tithing can be touchy subject, and within a marriage it can bring up a lot of conflict if you’re not in agreement on it, but the bible is very clear about the command to tithe. Tithing was established with Abraham (Genesis 14:20) before the law, and it continues to be a command we are to follow in the new testament church whether we’re married or single. But in marriage, I believe that it unifies us in trusting God as our ultimate source and provider no matter what may come.

Yes, there are have been those occasional panicky moments in regards to finances in our marriage. I no longer work outside the home, and Patrick is a self employed, business owner whose income can fluctuate drastically from month to month so we’ve definitely had to learn to be disciplined with putting money aside for the proverbial rainy day. At the very beginning of the pandemic when everything shut down, that included our real estate business. We had a long stretch of time where not much was happening, and in that time we had a choice, we could trust that God would see us through, or we could have a breakdown. Either way not much was going to change and the events of the world were out of our control. But without fail, we are able to always come back to what God has promised us, because we are faithful and obedient (which I’ll admit obedience is not always easy) to tithe and give and seek Him for wisdom with our finances, He will always provide:

“‘Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ ‘In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,’ says the LORD of hosts,'” Malachi 3:8-11

Here’s the thing. Tithing is about money, but it isn’t just about money. At its most basic level, tithing releases the hold and power money has over us. I see people that have more than enough, some would even say they are wealthy, yet they are always struggling and striving to get more, constantly afraid they don’t or won’t have enough. And I see others, who live much more humbly, resting in the fact that God will continue to provide if they are faithful and obedient. Tithing and giving are not just about throwing money at a church or a ministry although they are the means that God has established in order to physically fund ministries on this earth. When we tithe we are giving over to God the control that we think we have, it’s really somewhat of an illusion, over our finances.

Further, I believe that tithing is an essential component to a healthy marriage because it helps us to release control in so many different areas of our lives. If we can trust God with our money, I think it’s much easier to trust Him across the board. It’s not just a smart financial move but an act of obedience that will open the windows of blessing in our marriages and our families in areas far more important and meaningful than just finances.

Principle Number Two . . . making wise choices when it comes to spending, saving, investing, and giving: We do our best to live within our means. I like to shop y’all. I particularly love shopping for shoes and clothes, but sometimes I just have to reign in the shopping because it’s either not within our means or even if it is, it’s excessive. Y’all know what I’m saying, just because I can doesn’t mean I should. At different times in our marriage what is within our means has looked different. In the beginning our means were far more meager and our ability to save wasn’t huge. We just weren’t making enough money to put much, if any, aside. But one of the most important things I was taught and took to heart regarding the use of credit cards, in particular, was don’t run up credit cards on things you do not need and then not pay them off monthly. I understand that at times credit must be used to cover expenses that are insurmountable and unavoidable. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about using credit to buy things that fall solidly into the want rather than need category. Credit cards can be a fantastic servant and a horrible master. Use them as a tool, if you can, but if you can’t, if they control you and are a constant temptation, then cut them up.

When it comes to investing, if I’m totally honest, it can be hard for me. I tend to be the brakes and Patrick the gas when it comes to investment projects. In the not so distant past, I haven’t always reacted in the most Christlike way when he broaches the subject of tackling certain investment projects. This tends to be an area where I let fear get the best of me, and I will sometimes react in a way that is anything but helpful. However, I am learning, albeit slowly, to take a moment, pray, and ask God to guide us and give us wisdom on what to do and how to proceed. I promise it works far better than completely freaking out.

And most importantly, we also continue to seek God on how and where He wants us to give above tithing to our local church. I don’t like to talk a ton about our personal giving, but I’ll say this, there’s a rather cliché saying that “You can not out-give God.” And I can fully attest to that. One of our goals in marriage is to be generous givers above and beyond tithing. And in order to do that we must always act with prudence and wisdom in our spending, saving, and investing.

Principle Number three . . . become financially independent from extended family: If you thought tithing was a touchy subject . . . I sincerely hope this does not come across as offensive. I promise that is not my intention in any way, but I’ve asked God to guide me in what to say, and this is something that I think is vitally important. If we’re not careful this can cause huge marital issues, and so what I’m saying is not said in a way that is judgmental but rather a way that is protective.

I’ll never forget my mom handing over my car payment, insurance, cell phone . . . basically any bills I wasn’t yet covering . . . once I graduated from college. At first I was like, “Hey?! I just walked across that stage!” but the reality is our families (parents and grandparents) had helped us out immensely, financially and otherwise, up to that point, to get set up and ready for married life (we were married just a couple months after my college graduation), and it was time for us to start moving toward a place of independence financially. I’m incredibly thankful that my parents did not continue to pay all my bills but helped me to understand that allowing them to continue to have that role in my life would be damaging to my marriage. I’m so glad they set those boundaries early on. Believe me, our families most definitely did not hang us out to dry and were very much front and center and continued to help us in many ways . . . Patrick was finishing up college and worked for my dad during the first couple years of our marriage. We lived on my parents land in a single wide mobile home that his family lent us the money to purchase, and his parents continued to assist us with a few of the bills that carried over as he finished college. But our ultimate goal was financial independence. So we worked hard, with God’s guidance, to make wise choices in those early years, to save and invest and build our credit, in order to achieve and maintain financial independence within our marriage.

As a married couple, you will have to decide exactly what your financial relationship with your extended family will be and what financial independence means for you. Some families are far more intertwined than others and the sharing of expenses does not necessarily mean there is a lack of independence. Whether you are willing to seek out and accept personal loans from family members (we have when it is mutually beneficial for both sides meaning we pay interest on those loans . . . we see them as a basic business transactions and are always sure to make our payments), financial help (we haven’t since early in our marriage and barring a major catastrophe have no future plans to do this), and even gifts (we graciously accept and are thankful for gifts but definitely do not seek them out or think we are owed them) from your extended families is something you will have to work out and need to discuss. But ultimately, we cover our own expenses and maintain financial independence because we believe that allowing family to provide for us financially or otherwise blurs the boundaries in an unhealthy way. No matter how great the intentions it can swiftly become an area of contention and division within a marriage. If we are allowing our family to cover our expenses and provide for us on a regular basis, then, whether they choose to exercise it or not, they do have every right to have an opinion on our day to day spending habits. And that’s where I’ll leave that. Like I said no judgment. No offense. Just sharing what I’ve learned.

As a married couple you must decide how your financial situation will look, and sometimes that might change day by day, month by month, or year by year. But the one principle I encourage you not to compromise on is that of tithing and giving. I promise, no matter where you are financially, you will only see blessings and benefits in your marriage and family as you are obedient to tithe.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.