I Will Not Fear . . .

Psalm 91

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

1He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

Were you to ask me my favorite passage of scripture, I don’t know that I could give you a solid answer. God’s word is an abundance of wisdom and encouragement, of instruction and guidance, all of it applicable to so many facets of our lives. And I can say that large portions of both the old and new testament stand out as “favorites” for me.

  • Psalm 19
  • Psalm 27
  • Psalm 103
  • Psalm 121
  • Psalm 139
  • Proverbs 31:10-31
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
  • Isaiah 5:20-21
  • Isaiah 9
  • Isaiah 26:3
  • Isaiah 40:3-5;26-31
  • Isaiah 41:10
  • Isaiah 53-55 (there’s so much in those three chapters)
  • Isaiah 60-61

And that’s just a small sampling of my top favorites. The list goes on well into the new testament. But when I’m having a moment . . . when I start to feel fear try to overwhelm me, and I struggle to think sensically or to know what or how to pray . . . these words, from Psalm 91, are what come pouring out of my mouth.

I memorized most of it years ago. I say that not to brag . . . I memorized these verses when my oldest was very young . . . out of sheer desperation when I was terrified at the total lack of control I felt at everything going on around us . . . at health struggles that seemed to hit us way too frequently . . . at so much unknown in both life in general and in parenting . . . having kids will do that to a person . . . bring you to your knees in ways you never thought possible.

And now that I’m only a few weeks away from 40, one marriage, two kids, tons of joys and victories but also countless losses, tragedies, crises (ranging from minor to major and personal to worldwide), and a couple pandemics into this whole thing we call life, I lean into these words more than ever. I’ll admit that the H1N1 pandemic way back in 2009 made my heart pound and my head swim so can you imagine what COVID made me feel in those early days??? Maybe that’s not the most faith filled statement ever, but it’s an honest one. I have fought fear for as far back as I can remember, and these words have become integral to how I fight.

I lean into these words when the world around me seems so wildly out of control, and things don’t seem to be getting better but worse on so many fronts. I lean into these words when governments are in uproar, and anger and criticalness and flat out meanness seem to run rampant, not only in the world, but in our churches amongst followers of Christ. I lean into these words when sickness and danger seem way too close.

I pray them over my family and my loved ones daily. I’ve prayed them over my children in both sick and healthy seasons. I’ve prayed them when thousands of miles separated us from our youngest for months on end. I pray them as we set out in four different directions each day. I pray them knowing that my God hears every word. I pray them with the authority of someone who is assured that her big, strong Father is standing behind her ready to fight for her.

On those days when everything seems overwhelming, but also on the days that everything seems pretty normal, I return to these words over and over again.

I dwell in His secret place . . .

I rest in His shadow . . .

He is my shield and my buckler . . .

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.

Compromise

Y’all I can’t with the compromising anymore . . .

This isn’t one of those posts that is going to make people stand up and cheer. And maybe I should check myself and not write it, but I’m having a moment so here’s goes nothing. All I ask is that you read this in its entirety, beginning to end, to get the whole picture of what I’m trying to communicate.

I keep seeing leaders, famous, infamous, and not that well known, within the church crashing and burning, and it just trickles down into the church. So many Christians are doing a complete about face on solid theology, families are splitting up, ministers aren’t just leaving the pulpit, they’re leaving Christianity altogether. I’m heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for them personally. I’m heartbroken for their families. But I’m also heartbroken for the church.

And I’m left asking, “What is happening?” . . . “How is this happening?” . . . “Why is this happening?”

And the word that just keeps coming back to me is “compromise”. Not one big overt compromise, but one little compromise after another.

We have an epidemic of “Has God indeed said?” in our churches (hello Genesis 3 . . . we want to blame Eve, but we’ve been repeating this pattern ever since).

We are inundated with the need to justify and explain away the compromises in our core beliefs . . . beliefs that aren’t opinions or judgments passed by man . . . beliefs that are based soundly on scripture . . . I’m talking about scripture, inspired by God (FYI: all of it is from beginning to end), that says what it means and means what it says without apology. Here’s the thing, some of it, both old and new testament, can be hard to swallow . . . some of it is gives us full pause because again, “Has God indeed said?” keeps popping into our heads. But y’all if it’s there, it’s there because it matters . . . because God created us, and He knows what’s best for us . . . it’s there because He knows how to grow us, heal us, and protect us.

We are called to live above board . . . to be the light . . . and yet . . . the American church seems to be floundering, and progressive Christianity is causing massive amounts of damage. And I am not saying for a second that we don’t reach out in grace and love and surround those who are struggling and hurting, but also, the issues start way before the big problems become evident. The maintenance isn’t happening, and we’re tearing our lives and the church apart, one small compromise at a time.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been studying the book of Revelation, and the church of Laodicea is fresh on my mind . . . but y’all there’s way too much of this happening. There’s way too much lukewarm . . . there’s way too much wavering and wobbling and unwillingness to stand in the face of sin (see Revelation 3:14-22).

And I get it . . . it’s hard!

But we are compromising right and left . . .

On kindness and graciousness and goodness and love . . . we’re compromising. And make no mistake, if you think posting/saying/engaging in/laughing at ugly, hateful, cutting, snarky things toward or against others, because of or due to their beliefs, politically, personally, or otherwise, is okay, YOU. ARE. COMPROMISING. And you are damaging the witness for the kingdom of God.

On obedience and order and leadership within the church . . . we’re compromising . . . we’d much rather complain and throw a fit and pout when we don’t like how things are going. FYI: you’re not three, if there’s an issue be an adult and go to your church leadership. And then accept the answer you’re given. (Preaching to myself here.)

On what a solid marriage looks like . . . and yes, I mean the husband is the leader and head of the household . . . we’re compromising. But that has been so twisted for so long that we don’t even know what submission really means . . . let me give you a clue . . . no human being, man or woman, should be dominating a marriage. It is a partnership. Having said that, the word of God clearly states that the husband is the leader of the home, and he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:22-31 . . . this is a whole post in and of itself . . . just go read the entire passage . . . it’s worth your time).

On sexual morality and immorality . . . we’re compromising. We’re excusing behaviors and actions because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but we are failing to bring the light to others in a way that is also full of grace and mercy. That is not love and grace and mercy . . . that is not helpful or healing . . . that is 100% compromise.

On our personal relationships and walk with Jesus . . . we’re compromising.

On sin in general . . . we’re compromising.

Hence the crashing and burning.

And hear me in this. I’m not here to shout hellfire and brimstone. I don’t think we serve a God that’s out to get us. His grace and mercy are so abundant and so good. But He loves us too much to let us keep on living in a way that is harmful, and sin is destructive and harmful.

Just a little taste here.

A little justification there.

Unforgiveness, meanness, hatred, anger . . .

We want to ride the fence, so to speak.

“It’s just a joke.”

“If they wouldn’t do _____, I wouldn’t have to say anything.” <insert shoulder shrug> . . . Oh yeah, I know, I’ve done it too.

“I have the right to be angry.”

“I’m not praying for them. They don’t deserve it.”

“If you understood the situation, you’d understand that I have to . . .”

COMPROMISE!

We’ve got to bring it to a full stop. We’ve got to start standing on the word. And once again I’m drawn back to the book of Isaiah:

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:20-21

Growing up we used to sing the song:

“The B-I-B-L-E . . .Yes, that’s the book for me . . . I stand alone on the word of God . . . The B-I-B-L-E . . .”

Sometimes not compromising means we’re going to stand alone. It means others are going to look at us and think we’re judgmental and uptight, and we have to be okay with that. Because in the end, we’re not answering to man. We’re answering to God.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, my moment is over . . . maybe . . .

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.

To The Class of 2021

It’s that time of year. School is coming to a close. Summer is upon us. High school graduations are just around the corner. And I have the immense privilege and pleasure of watching a number of “kids” I know and love move into this next phase in their lives . . . the, not always seamless but most definitely amazing, transition from childhood into adulthood. They may follow different paths. Some are going into the military. Some will have careers. Many will go to college or trade school. But one thing holds true, most are pretty dang awesome, and while I have no great delusions regarding my role in their lives, I am so very proud of them.

I’ve been thinking about what I would say to these kids, just moments away from becoming adults, if given the opportunity. And this is what I’ve come up with.

  • This is not the big climax of your life. Sorry, but it’s not. It’s one of the high points, but I hope it’s not the highest. I hope it’s only the beginning. The beginning of big and beautiful and hard things, and no matter what you’re doing tomorrow or next week or next year, you have to take ownership of your future. You have to do your part in making those big and beautiful and hard things happen.
  • Speaking of “hard” . . . hard is well, hard, but it’s not always bad. Hard things can be very good things as well.
  • And having said all that, work hard, but also work hard for the right reasons. There’s a verse in the bible that basically says, “Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord . . .” (paraphrased from Colossians 3:23-24), and y’all this is the best advice I can give you. If you do things for others and even for yourself, you’ll always reach a point where you’re burnt out and tired and disappointed. But when you do things for God, not just in theory but in reality, you’ll find strength only He can give.
  • Don’t rush the next step. We’re always looking for what’s next. Goals are good. Goals are important, but also, as cliché as it sounds, seize the day . . . embrace the moment . . . live in the here and now. You won’t get it back.
  • Speaking of . . . relationships are great, but you are young. Give yourself time to grow and grow up a bit before getting too serious.
  • College is not a career. It’s a means to an end, and a transition into adulthood. So have fun but know when it’s time to wrap it up, grow up, and move into the next phase.
  • Take risks. Not the kind of risks that will give your mama a heart attack (for the most part anyway), but the kind of risks that change people’s lives. Be a world changer. You can always dream bigger. 
  • Don’t drink and drive. Ever. It’s really stupid and not worth anyone’s life.
  • Live generously. Give. Volunteer. Do something for someone other than yourself.
  • Laugh everyday, and be with people who give you life. If someone only takes from you and sucks you dry, it might be time to move on.
  • Find a career you love. And yes, “stay at home mom” is absolutely a career, but so is CEO of a large company. It’s up to you, and you may do both, or you may do neither in your lifetime. But don’t let anyone look down on or put down the path you choose.
  • However . . . on the way to finding that career you still have to work hard, and you might have to settle for the “job for now” in order to pay the bills. See my third point. There’s no shame in any job as long as you show up and do your best. Just don’t get stuck in the status quo.
  • Go to church and build a community, but also seek a personal relationship with Jesus. Trust God. Pray. Seriously, you’ll find that life is much easier and much more meaningful with Jesus than without.

You are amazing, and you are meant to do great things. God didn’t create anyone boring or ordinary. He created unique and extraordinary. And that’s 100% you. Here’s to the graduating class of 2021.

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.

* Some of you that have been around since the days of my old adoption and family blog may think you’ve read this before. You have! This was brought over from my old blog and tweeked a bit for this space. I’ve been sorting through old posts and will do that from time to time.

The Hard and The Beautiful . . . Preparing to Embrace a New Decade of Life

I have about five different ideas on which to write rolling around in my head, but the honest truth is, they all feel kind of heavy. Not bad. Definitely worthwhile. But still, heavy. And I’m not really surprised. These past 12-13 months have been heavy. I’ve watched as many people I care about experience deep grief. Some of it has been life playing out. Some of it has been due to COVID, and there’s no getting around that. Too many of my friends have lost loved ones to this illness. My own family has walked the incredibly hard road of losing someone we love to the devastating effects of COVID. And even without all the loss and heartache, even with the light at the end of our pandemic tunnel shining brighter by the day, we still have days and weeks where we find ourselves praying for friends and family that are sick, heartbroken, or hurting . . . where we are navigating exposures and quarantines and shut downs/virtual schooling in our immediate world. So, yeah, heavy is just part of it sometimes. There’s no denying that, but today, I’m not pondering all the heavy stuff.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about. In just over a month, I’m turning 40. The big 4.0. As a teenager 40 seemed so OLD. It’s halfway to 80. The turning point, the very definition of middle age, and the top of the hill that starts the downhill slope in the second half of our lives. That sounds kind of depressing, but the reality is, I’m more than okay with, I’m actually embracing, turning 40 even if it comes with a few more wrinkles and the potential for bifocals.

It’s the honest to goodness truth. I’m happy to be turning 40. I’m pretty sure I was born an adult at heart so I’ve never struggled a whole lot with getting older, but there is something about entering this decade, in particular, that I really find myself welcoming. My 30s have been hard. I’ve experienced grief on a very personal level, and I’ve had to work through and fight that grief on my knees in a way I never had before. As a family we’ve had some hard times, a few major health challenges, and some big losses of loved ones. And all of that found me pressing into God like never before. My 30s have also been beautiful. We’ve gained so much. I quit teaching and went to work part time only to end up staying home full time which turned out to be the most demanding “job” I’ve ever held (that whole thing falls somewhere between unbelievably hard/terrifying and amazingly beautiful but most certainly orchestrated by God). We brought Anna home . . . both the biggest and best thing that happened to us as a family and me individually, but there have also been unique challenges and hurdles and lots of opportunities for growth in this stage of our lives. We’ve built two homes and moved . . . twice (Jesus take the wheel . . . the thought of moving ever again makes me kind of want to hyperventilate). We’ve watched my husband’s business grow as he decided to venture out and start his own company. We’ve gained family members (and will be adding a niece to the mix this coming fall . . . woohoo!), and we’ve watched our kids develop into these amazing young people and become much more independent . . . and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve been incredibly blessed in so many ways.

The benefit of all of these challenges and growth . . . of both the blessings and the hard times . . . of learning to lean on and press into God more . . . is that at on the brink of turning 40, I am more confident and self assured in who I am than ever before.

I’m a Christian first and last and in between, and my relationship with Jesus literally dictates every other part of my life.

I’ve figured out that I’m worth it . . . I’m worth taking the time to take care of myself . . . physically . . . which is why I work out . . . emotionally/mentally . . . it’s okay to stop and say “no”, to set boundaries and not feel guilty about it . . . and most importantly spiritually, my relationship with God isn’t about checking off some box or meeting some requirement to read a certain number of scriptures, it’s not about performance or earning His favor . . . it’s deeply intimate and personal, and it’s 100% a non negotiable in my life. Further, I need to take care of myself in order to truly care for those I love.

I’ve learned (am still learning) the art of boldness and honesty . . . of standing up for what I truly believe is right . . . all while being gracious and kind and compassionate. Of balance. For many years I oscillated between people pleasing (still struggle with this sometimes) that kept me from speaking up or expressing my opinion and letting all my frustration build up until I snapped. But being a jerk is never justified, and I’m slowly, albeit surely, through the power of the Holy Spirit, learning to be completely unapologetic and yet, still full of grace and kindness in my beliefs and opinions.

I’ve learned to judge the things that matter, and not care about the things that don’t. And y’all, as I’ve said before, a whole lot of the things we pass judgment on just don’t matter.

I’ve realized the importance of putting my marriage second only to God . . . to putting in the work and embracing the gift that it is. And it’s so hugely worth it.

I’m learning the fine art of letting my children grow and become more independent. Of trusting that God truly loves them even more than I do. Of allowing my teenage son to grow into a young man . . . of figuring out the push and pull of letting him go that starts long before he actually leaves home while at the same time not being “helicopter mom of the year” to Anna (easier said than done).

I have no doubt that my 40s will also bring both hard and beautiful. My kids will both turn 18 before my 50th birthday. Although, Anna will get that one in just under the wire. Andrew will head off to college in a little over five short years, and Anna will grow from a little girl into a young woman. Our next ten years will be filled with a plethora of growth and changes some wonderful, some hard, many a good mixture of both. And I’m sure that, as time seems to do as we grow older, they’ll pass at a lightning fast pace.

So I’m embracing 40. I’m going into it with a lot of prayer and excitement of what’s to come. And for the record, I’d like to let my teenage self know that 40 is far from OLD.

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.

You Best be Studying . . .

My husband has been a youth pastor for almost 20 years . . . and I’ve been there, in various capacities (it’s definitely ebbed and flowed with young children), for all of those years . . . mostly as “killer of all things dangerous and fun” (Why do dangerous and fun always seem to go hand in hand? And are there any other youth pastor’s wives in the house that can relate to this???).

One of my favorite prayer requests I’ve heard from our teenagers over the years often goes something like this:

Kid: “I have a test tomorrow. Can you pray that I’ll pass?”

Me: “Sure I’ll pray for you. Have you studied?”

Kid: “Well . . . I mean . . . this teacher is really tough . . .”

Me: “Okay, so have you studied?”

Kid: “Well . . . ummm . . . maybe . . . a little . . . not really.”

Cue major side eye from me, “killer of all things dangerous and fun”, because that’s not how it works. It’s how we, not just teenagers but also adults, want it to work, but the reality is, we can’t repeatedly refuse to do the work (read: be lazy), we can’t repeatedly make unwise, sometimes risky, and often foolish decisions then expect God to be our big bail out guy in the sky. God not is not our enabler.

That’s not to say He isn’t merciful. Our Heavenly Father is beyond merciful and gracious and good, and He often does intervene when we absolutely do not deserve it. There is redemption to be found in God and deciding to do things His way. The children of Israel found forgiveness and redemption in repenting and turning back to God over and over again. And many of us have literally seen God restore the “years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25) when we absolutely do not deserve it, but you also have to make the choice to repent and make a change and do the work with the help and through the power of the Holy Spirit (and to be super clear here, I am not talking about salvation . . . the work was and is all Jesus y’all . . . but the choice is yours).

God didn’t create a bunch of robots that don’t have brains. God isn’t manipulating and moving us like the pieces on a chess board. And while He has a perfect plan for all of our lives, He also created us with free will to make decisions and choices. In the book of Psalms, Chapter 32 verse 9, it says, “Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.” God is not about the business of controlling every move we make, and I’d venture that there is a whole lot of leeway within our choices. He gave us personalities and preferences for a reason, and a lot of our decisions don’t have a huge effect on our lives or the lives of others either way. I mean if you want to wear red shoes and orange pants together (I own both items so don’t come at me), be my guest . . . unless you’re going to a job interview . . . then don’t.

But sometimes we make choices that carry a lot more weight and will have more lasting consequences, and because we are free to make those choices for better or worse, we have to understand that we must accept the consequences of the things we choose . . . or don’t choose . . . whatever the case may be. God will not just wave His hand and make life perfect for us . . . He won’t just remove the necessity for hard work . . . because He loves us too much and wants a relationship with us, not a bunch of mindless followers. And hard work, with God’s wisdom and guidance, isn’t the enemy.

“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” Proverbs 13:4

“For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

So having said all that, I’ll say . . .you’ve got to study for the test . . . save the money . . . pay the bills . . . go to the gym . . . clean the house . . . make the effort with your husband/wife/kids/parents . . . set the boundaries . . . put the priorities in place in your life . . . you’ve got to pray and study the word and ask for wisdom and trust that His ways are the best ways . . .

“So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield for those who walk uprightly.” Proverbs 2:2-7

And just in case you were wondering . . . yes, I still pray for our teenagers to pass . . . I pray that they go home and focus and study and are able to learn and retain the information they need in order to pass their test. I may be the “killer of all things dangerous and fun”, but I’m not a monster.

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.

Let’s Talk About Sin and Obedience…

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

C.S. Lewis

Let’s talk about sin. This definitely won’t be my most popular post and will likely make some people angry. It’s because of that very thing, my dislike for angering people, I have avoided posting it and seriously considered making it much more general. But sometimes obedience means standing up for what is right and doing what God tells you to do even if it means not everyone is going to love it (or you).

The subject of sin threatens to send most of us packing rather quickly. We’d rather talk about grace, and I am 100% there for that. I wholeheartedly believe we need to dwell on grace . . . I’m firmly in the camp of grace consciousness rather than sin consciousness. But the reality is we have grace, we have need of grace, because we are sinners saved by grace.

And so, I’m back to, let’s talk about sin . . . in particular, sin within the body of Christ . . . this has been circling in my mind for a few weeks now so bear with me for just a moment.

My husband and I were talking about this whole sin thing the other day, and I said, “We (speaking of Christians) want it both ways. We want to willfully live in sin, and we want the blessings and protection of God that only come from the obedience that leads to His covering.”

But that’s not how it works. We don’t get to live in the world and of the world. We are called to be separate. We are called to be different and live differently. (John 15:18-19; Romans 12:1-2)

These past few months, I’ve been camped out in Paul’s letters to the early church. And here’s the thing. Paul talked about grace, and Paul talked about sin. Paul was heavy on grace because there is no other option. Without the grace of God, we are utterly lost. We cannot and do not earn our salvation. But Paul also, regularly, addressed sin. Not because he was overly sin “conscious” . . . not because he was legalistic. He absolutely was not, but because he knew the importance of living a life worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; Philippians 1:27 . . . ). He knew and understood the importance of casting off “the sin that so easily entangles” and running “the race set before us” (Hebrews 12:1-3). He knew and believed in the transforming power of God’s grace (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God does not call us to be the same . . . to match our culture and the world around us. He calls us to change and stand out . . . to reach others for Christ. And because of that calling on the lives of every single Christian, both our input, what we feed on, and our output, the things we do and say, matter.

Far too many Christians see the bible as a set of rules . . . a book of dos and don’ts . . . of can’ts and cans . . . of shall nots and shalls . . . but y’all when God calls us to obedience . . . when He lays out certain rules and ways of doing things . . . they are not arbitrary . . . they are not because He’s the “big Man in the sky” looking to steal all our fun and rain our parade . . . the word of God and the guidelines He sets before us are protective! They are protective for both us and those around us. His commands are protective. Obedience is protective. He created us, and He knows what is best for us.

Obedience to God is the key that unlocks so many blessings in our lives. That’s not to say that Christians never face trials or temptations . . . we do and we will. That’s not to say we won’t mess up. We will, and I am so thankful that the blood of Christ covers all my sin. Nor am I in any way saying that we earn God’s love or our salvation. But the principles of reaping and sowing apply . . . the world calls it “karma”, but the principle was found in the bible long before the idea of karma ever existed. There are consequences for our actions, and too many of our problems, our crises, our drama filled issues are of our own making because we choose not to obey God’s commands. When we choose disobedience and sin, we are moving ourselves out of His protection.

As followers of Christ we are called to both excellence (not to be confused with perfection) and purity. There is an abundance of grace to be found at the cross, but as Paul says in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

Our words matter . . . our attitudes matter . . . our actions matter. We are either shining a light for Jesus, or we’re not.

How we treat others whether they are friend or foe . . . how we handle our finances (yes, tithing and giving matter) . . .how we steward and raise our children . . . how we behave within our marriage . . . even the things we choose to believe (truth matters) and the people we praise, follow, and emulate . . . they all matter.

Christians are not called to be critical, mean, constantly complaining, and stirring up trouble.

Christians are not called to idolatry . . . to put something or anything ahead of God whether that be work, politics, material possessions, even our own children . . . so many good things turn into idols because they take the place of God in our lives.

Christians are called to be diligent and careful about what we feed on . . . in the news we view and read, in the shows we watch (that’s a hard one y’all . . . because “we’re adults . . . we can watch what we want” . . . only can and should are not the same thing), in the music we listen to, the list continues. . . because what goes in is inevitably what will come out and who we will become.

And this one is going to make some people mad, but y’all, as Christians we are called to sexual purity as well, He created sexual intimacy for marriage alone, and you can’t choose to live outside of that boundary and expect God to pour His blessings on your relationship and life. I see it happening over and over and over again, and we are playing with fire on this one. There is absolutely grace and forgiveness for ALL sin at the foot of the cross, and God’s call to purity is incredibly protective. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (and there is more in 1 Corinthians 7).

I could continue to list things we should or shouldn’t do, but that’s not the point. It’s not about legalism or about a bunch of rules. Although right and wrong are definitely and clearly spelled out for us in the Bible. But at the end of the day, it really is a heart issue. It’s about far more than behavior modification. Rather it’s about whether or not we truly trust God that what He says is best really is best and obedience serves a purpose both on this earth and into eternity. I’m just as guilty as anyone of sometimes making choices that are disobedient and wrong, and that’s one of the reasons I wrote this. Because my goal is always to share what God is teaching me, and I mess up and fall short as much as the next person.

Yesterday, my youngest was acting out, and my response was less than stellar. I snapped at her. I yelled. I was super impatient. I wasn’t lovingly guiding her. I was frustrated. And later as I was praying about how I had acted I said, “But I didn’t mean to…” only I was immediately convicted because I knew I chose my words, my tone, and my actions. God has given me self control through the power of the Holy Spirit, but I let frustration at an ongoing struggle and fear regarding the future to dictate how I responded. I chose disobedience over trusting God because, honestly, it was easier and felt a whole lot better in the moment than doing what was right. So I apologized to my daughter and repented and thanked God for His grace. And I’m sure it won’t be the last time I have to do that, but I’m determined to let God have his way in my life in both the biggest and the smallest things. I’m determined to let Him continually transform this imperfect life and heart of mine. And I want nothing less for you.

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.

Content but Not Complacent . . . Don’t Make Permanent what is Temporary

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

Joseph was both a dreamer of prophetic dreams and the favorite of his father, Jacob. Out of 12 boys, he was loved above all the others . . . it was not only not a secret, it was blatantly obvious. And Joseph’s brothers hated him so much because of this that sold him into slavery and told their father he was dead.

Eventually, Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, and through a series of extraordinary, and what can only be seen as divinely orchestrated, events Joseph went from slave to prisoner to second in command only to Pharaoh after interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams and advising that Pharaoh prepare Egypt for a great famine to follow seven plentiful years. Joseph lived and ruled in Egypt during these seven years of plenty, and when the famine came, Egypt had a bounty of grain.

Without knowing who he was, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt from Canaan seeking to buy grain and ended up bowing before Joseph pleading for food. Joseph eventually revealed himself and forgave them, and then sent them to bring his father’s household from Canaan to Egypt. What the brothers had intended for Joseph’s destruction, God had set up to save them all. Joseph lived in Egypt into his old age . . . the land that first seemed to lead to his demise was ultimately his salvation . . . and at the end of his life . . . at 110 years old . . . as he was dying, Joseph said, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” (Genesis 50:25) And he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. (Account of Joseph’s Life: Genesis 37-50)

Joseph knew that Egypt was never meant to be permanent. Egypt was good to Joseph. Egypt gave Joseph a life and a family and success. Even more so it enabled him to save his father and brothers and as a result, the future of Israel and the Jewish people to come, but Egypt was only temporary.

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who was invisible.” Hebrews 11:23-27

After Joseph’s death the children of Israel multiplied greatly and the new king of Egypt, out of fear of their greatness, enslaved them. He set out to kill all the male children born to the Israelites, but Moses was saved when his mother put him, as a three month old, in a basket and placed him in the Nile river. He was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the house of Pharaoh. But Pharaoh’s house, though it was good to Moses, though it saved Moses’s life, was never meant to be permanent. Pharaoh’s house, just like Egypt, was meant to be temporary. (Account of Moses and the Exodus of the Children of Israel: The book of Exodus)

“God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” Genesis 50:25

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

As I read these words this morning it struck me, though Joseph spent the majority of his life in Egypt . . . though he lived and ruled in Egypt for over 80 years . . . he knew the temporary nature of the situation. He knew that one day the children of Israel would leave Egypt, and he made sure they knew to take his bones with them. He didn’t want his remains to reside permanently in a place meant to be temporary.

I can’t help but wonder how often we park ourselves permanently in temporary places?

How often do we get entirely too comfortable in a place we’re meant to pass through, possibly set up camp, but most definitely not build a city?

The children of Israel are famous for turning a 11 day journey into 40 years. They were disobedient, they were whiny, they constantly complained, and sadly (and kind of stupidly), they wanted to go back to Egypt. Because even though Egypt was always meant to be temporary . . . even though it had long passed the point of its purpose . . . Egypt was familiar . . . there was no battle in staying in Egypt.

And that’s often the excuse we use, “If it’s meant to be then why is it so hard? Why do I have to fight?” So we decide that hard means wrong, and we permanently stay where we were only supposed to camp for a little while . . . maybe for a day or a year or ten years . . . but definitely not forever. What we fail to realize is that change and pushing through the hard with God’s help and guidance are what bring about growth in our lives. It’s never change for the sake of change, but change with a purpose.

Maybe it’s an old job you should leave or new job you should take . . . maybe it’s a relationship that’s played itself out (not a marriage relationship . . . see my last post in regards to that) or maybe it’s not allowing temporary struggles to become a permanent fixture in a relationship. . . maybe it’s a big move (or even a small one) that is just a little too intimidating . . . maybe it’s not a physical situation but an emotional one . . . maybe you’ve allowed yourself to sit in grief and despair so long that it’s all you know and seeking help to get out just seems like too much work . . . I can’t tell you what your temporary is and when you’re meant to move on . . . that’s something that only God can do. But what I can say is if we want to see the fullness of God’s good plans for our lives then we cannot stay stagnant . . . we have to embrace change and growth when it comes from God . . . we have to make sure we’re prepared to be moved when the time comes.

Joseph did not see the end of the Egypt. For him it was temporarily permanent, but he knew that it was not forever, and in faith he made preparation for that before he died. Neither Joseph nor Moses, endured a life without hardship. Nor were they perfect. Joseph was mouthy and talked too much . . . it didn’t help his situation with his brothers at all . . . and Moses was a bit hotheaded . . . he killed a man, ran away to Midian, tried to avoid God, broke the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, and bashed a rock to get water out of it . . . he had a temper . . . but God still used both Joseph and Moses and so many other imperfect men and women mightily to bring about change for His kingdom (take the time to read Hebrews 11).

At the end of the day, nothing on this earth is permanent. The only permanent place we have is in eternity. This very life on earth is temporary. And that is why we have to be so careful not to get too comfortable . . . not to look at contentment and think it means were complacent . . . contentment stays consistent through all the changes and shifts of life, but it doesn’t avoid them. Complacency avoids those shifts and changes. Complacency says we’ll stay in Egypt when we should be head to the Promised Land.

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.

Work Hard, Work Smart . . . But You’ve Got To Do The Work

Hard and smart are not mutually exclusive . . .

It is not an either/or situation . . .

Not for most things in life and definitely not for marriage . . . yeah, I’m back to that whole “marriage” thing. Whether you’ve been married two years or twenty years, or maybe you’re still waiting for “the one” (that’s another discussion for another day), I think we need to understand the value of both hard and smart work in all of our relationships, but especially in marriage.

We live in society that equates hard work with “bad”. We think if it’s hard there’s no way it can be good, and if it’s good, and especially great, it should never be hard. We say things like, “Work smarter, not harder . . . ” (credit: Allen F. Morgenstern) and use it as an excuse for not working hard. We’ve somehow twisted this saying (which is more about time management in the work place than anything else) and applied in ways it was never meant to be applied. How about we instead use our brains, our smarts, if you will, whilst also working hard? Working hard but not smart will just leave you spinning your wheels. But working smart while working hard will make a world of difference.

Circling back to marriage (because I have a point), I was listening to a marriage and family podcast the other day (and I honestly cannot remember which one), and the hosts were talking about the fact that if you see a great marriage then you see a marriage that was sometimes hard, sometimes easy, but has always had a lot of time and hard work invested in it.

Marriage is hard at times. Marriage is work most of the time. Marriage is hard work. Hard work done smartly is one of the most satisfying things on the planet. The issue we run into here is this isn’t a super romantic notion. When we walk down the aisle and stand next to the love of our life and vow our undying devotion and love and commitment for all time, we think that because we love one another it should all just magically happen. That this married thing should be easy. That the passion and romance and love should just flow. In essence we think the honeymoon should never end. To which I say, “Hahahahahaha! Ha!” Honeymoons never last forever, and the second things become hard, the second we have to put our hands to the proverbial plow in our marriages, many of us want to jump ship. This is most certainly not what we signed up for. And we’re left thinking maybe the person we thought was “the one” really isn’t???

Newsflash:

If you’re married to him/her, barring abuse, infidelity, or abandonment (*as always, see my disclaimer at the end), he/she is “the one”. And temporarily sidestepping the hard work, and going shopping for a new “one”, isn’t going to set you up for success. In all honesty, it’s probably going to place you right back in the same situation in a few months or years once the newness and excitement wear off.

I could throw a bunch of scriptures regarding marriage and hard work at you here. But I’m just going to give you one.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” Colossians 3:23

“Heartily” here means “with your breath/soul” (Strong’s 5590).

In other words give it all you’ve got and then give it more.

Which y’all, when your spouse is getting on your last nerve, and your kids are climbing the walls, and you really don’t feel like giving it one ounce of energy (that you probably don’t really have) much less pouring your soul into it, is HARD.

Hence the HARD in hard work.

And this is what it took me a super long time, like embarrassingly long, to learn. I often worked hard, but I didn’t always work smart. I have a good husband that I’ve always loved and who has always loved me, and for that I am abundantly grateful, but y’all, I can work hard at nagging, and whining, and complaining, and picking a fight with the best of them. And I typically felt justified in doing it. But the reality is, even if I’m justified in my feelings (because let’s face it sometimes we’re wrong, but sometimes we’re not), I’m never justified in behaving badly. And what God brought to my attention some time ago was that if I wasn’t going to put the effort into my marriage that it deserved then I was essentially putting “bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (from Isaiah 5:20), and I was working hard at tearing down what God had built and created.

So what’s the answer?

The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit . . . it’s that simple, and it’s that complicated . . . that’s the answer for everything in life, including marriage. Without God, we aren’t going to ever truly get it right, and that is 100% where the “smart” comes in because there is no way I’m doing this in my own power.

As my eight year can often be heard saying, “Help me Jesus to make good choices!”

Help me Jesus to respect and love my husband well. Help me Jesus to think before I speak or act. Help me to pour myself and my soul, my time and my effort, into my marriage. Holy Spirit help me to prioritize my life in such a way that it’s always God first and marriage second only to God. Teach me to be a good wife. And equip me and enable me to work both hard and smart.

Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”

I’ll be the first to tell you I’m no marriage expert. I’m often hesitant to write about marriage because I’m still learning and a work in progress. I still mess things up more than I care to admit. But I’ve lived it both ways. I’ve sown contention and reaped more as a result, but I’ve also worked hard, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to sow love, respect, peace, and joy into my marriage, and the fruit of that is so very sweet. And the more you do it, the easier and more effortless and enjoyable all that “hard” work becomes.

* Disclaimer: I will always cheer for, fight for, and champion marriage, but I feel like I have to say this because I’ve seen too many spouses (mostly women but also men) pushed to live in dangerous and unhealthy marriages by the church itself. When I talk about marriage, I’m talking about a marriage that, while it may be imperfect, is not one that is abusive or that has ongoing infidelity (and that covers more than just a physical affair). And obviously, if you’ve been abandoned, then the marriage vow and covenant has been severed, and you’re not responsible. This is not something that is going to work in an abusive marriage. A marriage rife with abuse and infidelity needs professional help to say the least. If you are living in an abusive situation (physical or emotional – and there’s a lot of ground with emotional abuse which is why professional help is so important) or with an unfaithful spouse, please, do everything you can to get to safety, and seek true, qualified help. Can marriages recover from abuse and infidelity? Yes, they sometimes do, but it takes two willing spouses, and that’s not always present or possible. Regardless, you are worth being treated with love and respect, and abuse is breaking the marriage vows and covenant with God. God does not intend for you to sit or stay in an abusive or unfaithful marriage with a spouse unwilling to change.

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.

Good News of Great Joy! It Is Finished!

“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished! And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” John 19:30

It is finished . . .

The thousands of years battle against death and sin.

It is finished . . .

The trying to measure up and failing.

It is finished . . .

The never ending, never satisfying sacrifices.

It is finished . . .

The chasm between God and man.

It is finished . . .

The work of Jesus on the cross finished it all and gave us a path toward completeness and redemption.

Jesus wasn’t just a “good man” who gave up His life for us “just in case”. He wasn’t just a prophet, or a teacher, or a leader. He was, He is, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Messiah, our Hope. He was God incarnate. He was fully man, but make no mistake, He was and will always be fully God as well.

And on that Good Friday a little over 2000 years ago, He took on all the sin, the destruction, the pain, and the heartache of mankind for all eternity, and He gave up His spirit, and He said, “It is finished!” His work and our salvation were made complete in that moment.

Satan, for just a few hours, may have thought he won. He may have thought he defeated the Son of God, but he didn’t know what the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit knew. Sunday was coming.

Jesus would rise again.

It is finished . . .

In a world that is desperately lost and searching for anything and everything to fill the void.

It is finished . . .

In a culture that chases pleasure at all cost and serves self to the point of self destruction.

It is finished . . .

In a hurting, broken, and dying world.

It is finished . . .

“For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2

Do you know what this “good news of great joy” is? Do you know why the most horrible day in the in all of history is also so very “good”? It’s the story that started in a manger . . . that culminated on a hill called Golgotha . . . Calvary . . . and ended with an empty tomb. It’s the message of the cross. The good news of a Savior born as a baby, sacrificed as a man, and risen as our Redeemer. There is nothing on this earth that can fill the void, but there is nothing that needs to because Jesus is ready and willing and waiting. All you have to do is ask. Ask Him to be your Lord, your Redeemer, your Savior.

“Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Today is the day of salvation!

It is finished!

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.

The Goal is Not Misery

For much of my life I felt like I was failing God. I thought if I desired or wanted something, God always wanted the opposite. And He was just waiting to snatch that dream or desire away from me. He was continually disappointed and mad at me, and nothing I did was pleasing to Him.

I felt like there was this standard to which I was expected to measure up and yet, it was humanly impossible to actually reach it. So being a christian was as much, if not more, about behaving well as it was about grace, and I was a complete failure at it because no matter what, I could never get it right.

That’s a miserable way to live. But it’s also a lie from the pit of hell.

God’s goal is not our misery.

Let’s say that louder for the people in the back.

God’s goal has never been our misery.

What our Heavenly Father wants is a personal, intimate, relationship with us through Jesus Christ.

That’s the goal.

Yes, He wants us to grow . . . to do good . . . to be sanctified . . . to change and transform . . . He wants all the things that are good and holy for us because He is a Father that knows what is best for His children. He knows how to protect us. That’s why, when we read Paul’s letters, inspired by the Holy Spirit, we see that he is never soft on sin, sin is so very destructive, but he’s also heavy, hugely heavy, on grace.

The starting and ending point of it all is a relationship with Jesus Christ . . . with the only Way to the Father, and ultimately to eternity in heaven, being the One who sacrificed His life because He knew I could never measure up to that impossible standard. None of us can.

I think we get afraid. Afraid that if we don’t come down hard on sin and are too free with grace that people will abuse that. And I’m sure there are those that will, willful disobedience has always and will always exist, but let’s not forget Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

“But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head- Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16

“Though I speak with tongues of mean and angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass of a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1

Without love we are just loud and obnoxious.

Without a relationship, we are just trying to earn our way to heaven.

I don’t want behavior modification in my life. I don’t want to just “be good” because I’m scared of getting in trouble. I want the transformation that comes from knowing my Savior intimately. I want the change of heart and mind and soul that only comes from knowing I’m not good enough, I can’t measure up, and that’s the point. Because Jesus is far more than “good enough”, and He did and does “measure up”. That’s where true transformation begins. It’s not in good behavior. It’s in leaning into the God that loves you so much He only wants the absolute best for you, and He was willing to sacrifice His only son to give you that.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send HIs Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18

My lack of condemnation comes not from anything I do or say, but from everything Jesus did for me in giving His life. And that’s true for all of us. The only qualifier, if you will, is to accept Jesus and submit your life to the lordship of Christ. And then allow that relationship to grow. Pray, read the word, and ask God to send the Holy Spirit to help. That’s the beginning and the ongoing work of transformation, and it’s far better than being compelled to do right out of fear. It’s far better than behavior modification which doesn’t really work. We don’t have to try to act better. We just have to let Jesus in. God is not mad at me or you, and He finds pleasure in our relationship with Him.

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.