How Do I Study the Bible? How Do I Talk to God?

I don’t think these are uncommon questions. My last post, On Following Others and Leaning Into God and His Word Personally . . . Striking a Balance . . . , was all about the importance of seeking God for yourself. Not to discredit or marginalize the need for teachers, pastors, ministers, and so on, but to understand that there is a point where we need to open the bible and pray and study and read on our own.

The question so often heard is “How ? “How do I go about applying this practice in my own life?” Y’all, I’m far from an expert, and every time I think I’ve figured it out, I feel like I have to shift and pivot. Plus, every person is different. Every relationship with God is different, and even within my own personal life and relationship with Jesus, my how, varies and evolves with different phases of my life . . .because the reality is my how during the full blown quarantine of the pandemic looked very different than when my kids are both in school full time. Different seasons and circumstances bring different needs and purposes and stages of growth, and how everything looks right now, with one young-ish kiddo and one teenager at home, is going to look drastically different than a few years from now when one is out of the house and the youngest graduates to the role of teenager . . . Jesus take the wheel. Life changes and we adjust, but regardless, the most important how I have to figure out is how to keep God front and center.

So with that, I’m going to share a bit of what works for me. Just keep in mind, that these aren’t hard, fast rules, and I’m not an expert. Maybe some of this will work for you. Maybe none of it will, but I think it’s always good to get ideas from others when we’re trying to flesh out what works for us.

  1. First, I try to find a time where I can pray and read the bible in peace . . . and by peace I mean “silence” so for me it is literally “a quiet time”. Right now, while my kids are in school, that’s very early in the morning. For some people it doesn’t matter when they do this, but I really need to sit down and have this time before our day gets crazy because it sets the tone and keeps me from being a total grump throughout the day. Monday through Thursday I try to be up and ready to go before 6:00 (Fridays and weekends I’m a bit more flexible). Then it’s me, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, a large cup of coffee, and a prayer that my youngest doesn’t come busting out of her room the second I sit down. And y’all sometimes she completely crashes my party. It takes everything in me to not get irritated, sometimes I do, but again, different phases mean I learn to adjust and adjust again . . . going with the flow is not my thing. God’s working on me.
  2. I typically start with prayer. This is really where I need the silence so I can focus on communicating with God because quieting my mind (and my body) is not easy for me. It’s not that I never pray at any other time, but I feel like this is my uninterrupted quality time to focus and pray about all the things from my marriage, to my kids, to extended family, to needs of friends . . . the list is long and very comprehensive. This is the time to be thankful and ask the Holy Spirit to help and guide me. I keep a running prayer list in my journal where I can add to, mark things off, make notes, etc. And this prayer time is far more important than my cup of coffee. I’ll tell you that much.
  3. After I pray, I move on to studying the word. I intentionally do not use anything outside of my bible here unless I’m looking up a word meaning or comparing different bible translations. This is where I want God to reveal Himself, through His word, to me. So I save the sermons, teachings, podcasts, books, devos, etc. for later in the day. All of those things are good, but this is the time when I try to steer clear of any other influences no matter how good they are. That’s not to say that you have to or need to do it this way. For much of my life I used devotional books as a starting point before diving into the word (which is a great thing to do if you’re struggling to figure out where to start . . . and I highly recommend Priscilla Shirer’s devotional book Awaken if you’re looking for something that has a lot meat and substance). For the past year or two, I’ve been focusing on reading through one book of the bible beginning to end (not all in the same day). Somedays, I’m pressed for time and only read half a chapter while others I may read a few chapters, and while I love love love the bible app on my phone, I use my real deal bible during this time. I take notes both in my journal and in my bible. I write down questions that are going through my head. I ask the Holy Spirit to clarify things for me and speak to me during this time. There are days, I can fill pages and pages with notes. And other days, there isn’t a lot there, but even when the notes and answers to questions aren’t readily forthcoming . . . even when there don’t seem to be big, earth shattering, eye opening revelations . . . I know God is still at work. I know He’s doing a good thing.

So all of that to say this. These are the things that work for me. And if you find them useful, fantastic! If you don’t, then don’t try to force yourself to do what doesn’t work. Just find some time with alone with God. Find some time to read your bible and pray. Use a devotional book or a bible study or just dive right into the word. Whether it be morning, afternoon, or evening, just do it. I promise He’ll meet you wherever and whenever it happens. And the more time you spend with Him, the more time you’ll want to spend 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.

On Following Others and Leaning Into God and His Word Personally . . . Striking a Balance . . .

One of my favorite things to do while working out, cleaning, cooking . . . just doing all those daily life things . . . is to put on a podcast, a sermon, or a teaching by one of my favorite bible teachers, preachers, or christian podcasters.

I “follow” a lot of different people, and I’m not going to name any of them here because that’s not the point of this. I love gleaning and learning from those called into the ministry in one way or another, but here’s the thing, the very dangerous “trap”, if you will, that I think so many Christians, myself included, easily fall into, we elevate these teachers to a place they were never meant to be and rely on them for all of our biblical wisdom rather than praying, seeking God, and studying the bible for ourselves. I follow these men and women of God. I listen to and learn from them, and I will continue to listen to and learn from them. But I must never forget that they are human. They are not infallible. Only God is perfect, and these men and women are not to be put up on a pedestal and idolized.

So there are three things I do as I listen to and learn from others and seek to study God’s word for myself:

  1. When I hear a teaching that is something pretty obviously new or even something I’ve heard before but question (and if you’re new to Christianity it may all seem “new” so I encourage you to lean into study and fellowship with both other believers and also on your own), I first ask myself, “Does this not only not contradict God’s word, but does it align with both God’s word and His nature? Is scripture being manipulated and twisted to fit the narrative of the teacher? What is the context?” All of these things are so important. On a personal note, my husband will regularly call me out if I take a solitary scripture and misuse it out of context (don’t worry, he’ll do it to you too). Let’s be real, it’s not my favorite thing, but it keeps me accountable. We often hear of a “fresh word . . . a fresh revelation” . . . from God . . . but y’all, to be really clear, if it doesn’t align with God’s word, the bible, and His nature then it’s not from Him. If the interpretation of the scripture is something we’ve never heard, and we’re just not for sure, then we need to dig deeper, we need to study and pray and seek wisdom on whether or not it’s an accurate interpretation.
  2. Which leads into the second point and practice . . . I love to use devotionals, studies, and teachings as a starting point. But I need to crack the bible open for myself. I need to read scripture in context. I need to study it on my own. Sometimes I pull up concordances and lexicons and various commentaries, but the reality is, for the most part, the bible is not a super confusing book. Are there passages of scripture that are harder to grasp and understand? Absolutely. And that’s why we have pastors and teachers and ministers to help us when we have questions. Having said that, over a lifetime of reading God’s word, I’ve found that the more I read and study and pray for the Holy Spirit to help me when reading, the more I am able to grasp. But make no mistake, the bible was written for you and for me to read. And there will be times when we look at scriptures we’ve read a thousand times before and see them in a new light because of our current circumstances. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Further, someone else should not always be the one to tell us what we are thinking and believing regarding God’s word. And before anyone flips out, again, I am not discounting the need for theologically sound bible teaching. It is so incredibly necessary. But the bible is there for us to dive into personally. That’s where our intimate relationship with Jesus is developed*
  3. I don’t just follow one or two people when it comes to teaching and preaching. Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” I am picky about who it is that I learn from, but I also try to listen to and learn from a variety of voices. I think it’s easier to fall into idolizing a person when we are single mindedly only listening to one or two people’s teachings. No one person is going to get it right 100% of the time. We all fall short. That’s a fact that we have to accept, but if what is being taught puts a check in my spirit more often than not, if the teaching doesn’t pretty consistently line up with the word and is more opinion than bible teaching, and/or the character of the teacher is not matching the character that a man or woman of God should have, then, no matter how much I love them as a person, they are not going to be a voice I choose to follow.

At the end of the day, I want people to know that Jesus wants a relationship with them, personally. That’s really the cry of my heart. That you can have that relationship intimately and personally with Jesus. So yes, definitely, listen to teachers and preachers . . . use bible studies and devotionals and commentaries . . . read books and teachings both new and from those that have gone before us . . . go to church (obviously, this past year has been weird with COVID so be safe and use wisdom)! These are all essential and intricate facets of our growth that we cannot ignore. Disregarding the need for sound teaching and fellowship as believers is dangerous because they are very necessary parts of the foundation of our faith, but they are not the only parts. You also need to know that you can and should pray (which is a whole other post . . . but y’all don’t complicate prayer . . . it’s simply communication with God), and read, and learn from the bible on your own with the help of the Holy Spirit because that’s where deep growth happens. If you’re looking for a place to start, the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John . . . particularly the book of John) are a great starting point.

* Note: As far as bible translations, we are careful in our home about which we use. Personally, my husband and I both use the NKJV. I’ll often reference The Amplified or the NASB versions, and I’ll sometimes use the NIV for comparison. I’ll also look up the original text in the Hebrew or Greek to see what the words were originally. Bible Hub is a great resource for digging a bit deeper. Some translations are word for word (which is what I mostly prefer), some are thought for thought (the NIV falls in this category . . . a lot of people are big on being anti-NIV, but overall, it’s very good and one of the easier translations to read, and our son uses the NIV alongside the NKJV), and some are paraphrased (which, if I’m honest, we are both the most cautious with and do not often use). I’m not going to dive any deeper into the strengths and weaknesses of the various translations. There are a lot of great resources by real experts out there. I have linked a chart comparing most translations here. Just take the time to know what you’re reading. And I will add this, if the scripture in the translation you’re using is wildly different than anything you’ve ever seen before, you need to proceed with caution.

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.

Sticks and Stones . . .

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Biggest. Lie. Ever.

Words . . . words spoken . . . words written . . . words matter.

I’m a words person. Whether I’m speaking, writing, reading, or listening to them, words are my thing. And the easiest way to get on my good side is to use the right words (hint . . . hint). It’s no surprise that my primary love language* is Words of Affirmation, but I’d venture that no matter who you are (and whatever your love language may be), the words that others say (or don’t say) matter hugely.

Our words carry weight. Our words carry power. Words can be a weapon to hurt or a balm to bring healing. But make no mistake. Words matter.

And I have zero doubt that God not only knew that, He intended that. He used words to speak our world and our very being into existence. And while we don’t, thankfully, wield the same power with our words as our Creator, the words we speak to others and to ourselves carry no small amount of weight.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

I’ve often heard this scripture tossed around as a way for people to get what they want . . . “just say it, and you can have it” . . . but I think it’s far more than that. I believe that it’s an admonition to use our words carefully. To use them to build others up . . . to bring healing rather than hurt . . . to speak truth to lies and bring light to the darkness.

Make no mistake, there will be times when the truth is hard to hear and accept, but as I’ve said so many times before truth should always be spoken with grace. And there is absolutely no room for the speaking or the glorifying of words that are harmful and detrimental and that tear others down regardless of how we feel about them. Those words are a far from truth and will always bring harm.

I pulled up the words “death” (4194) and “life” (2425b) in Strong’s. Shockingly (read with a bit of sarcasm) “death” literally means death, and “life” literally means life (and side note: we often complicate the word of God where it is very clear and straight forward). Because words are so important to me, I know how to use them for both good and bad, and I’m not proud of the fact that I can and have used my own words as a weapon. But the fact is, our words, my words, are going to produce fruit one way or another, and we’re are going to eat that fruit. So we had best be sure that the words we speak bring life to all who hear them.

Sticks and stones will break bones . . . and bones can heal. Our physical bodies can heal. But the words we speak, once they are said, can never be taken back, and the damage they can do or the life they bring can last far longer than any physical injury.

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 5 Love Languages

Maybe You’re the Prodigal . . . Maybe You’re the Older Brother

Throughout the course of my life, I’ve read and heard it dozens upon dozens of times, The Parable of the Prodigal Son.

You have two sons. One older and responsible. One younger and wild. The younger takes his inheritance early, goes out into the world, blows all his money partying, and finds himself destitute and starving. But he wises up, realizes his father’s servants have more food and comfort than he does and heads back home. His plan is simple, admit his sin and live as one of his father’s servants, but when he gets close to home his father, who I’m sure has been sick with worry (if you’re a parent you know), sees him coming and runs out to greet him. And he doesn’t just greet him, he throws him a party to end all parties. He gives him robes and jewels and kills the fatted calf. There’s music and dancing . . . “party” is kind of an understatement. Meanwhile, big bro, the responsible one, comes in from the fields and sees this going on, and he. is. furious. I mean steaming. He has a little tantrum . . . refuses to come in. Points out to his father that he’s the good one. And up to this point he’s never even given him a goat (which y’all if I’m asking for anything, it ain’t a goat), and the father says, “Kiddo, it’s all yours. It always has been. But your brother was lost and is found, and we have to celebrate.” Not much was said about the older brother from that point, but I feel like he was at least appeased, went in, and life went on for everyone. (This is the Courtney’s Contemplations version of this parable. The actual version can be found in Luke 15:11-32. )

As I said in the beginning, I’ve read or heard this parable countless times. And two things were always the focus. First, the younger brother, he’s the picture of “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see . . . “*. Words written years later by another prodigal, slave trader John Newton, who found salvation and redemption at the foot of the cross. He is all of us, lost without Jesus, and the father is our Heavenly Father, celebrating each of us that comes into His kingdom. But second, the older brother, he’s typically vilified . . . what a spoiled brat? I mean . . . am I right?

Only, as I was reading this parable again, very recently, the thought that came to me was “I get it. I relate to the older brother. I probably would’ve felt the same way.” I even wrote “relatable???” off to the side in my bible. Of course, that was immediately followed by that least favorite of feelings that still pops up from time to time . . . shame. How could I relate to the selfish older brother? How absolutely shameful. I mean no he didn’t burn all his inheritance with a life of utter debauchery, but he was such an entitled brat. He was unforgiving and selfish in his own right. How could I relate to that?

But God . . . I’m so thankful for those two, very common, words in my life.

But God, in that moment, in His graciousness and mercy, through the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. The older son wasn’t put in this parable to be shame inducing (God is not in the shame business) nor was he just a side note. God knew, God knows, that some of us are that older brother. That we work and strive (which y’all that’s always us trying to earn our way to God rather than leaning on His mercy and grace . . . it’s wrong and unattainable in its own right), and He knew that often, in doing that we will feel hurt, marginalized, unnoticed.

If you go back to the father’s response in Luke 15:31-32, “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ “, you’ll notice, the father doesn’t lecture him. He doesn’t call him and entitled, selfish brat (those were my thoughts). He just says, “It’s all yours. It always has been.” The unspoken words there? “All you have to do is ask.” And in reading that again, I realized that the older brother is far more than just a minor character in this.

Some of us will relate to the prodigal, but some of us will most definitely relate to the older brother. And Jesus knew that. Jesus knew some of us would, from a very young age, give our hearts to Him and walk with Him and grow throughout our lives with Him, and that’s very good. All that He has has always been ours, but those that are lost and seeking and filling their lives with everything but the right thing, when they return, when they come to Jesus, we absolutely should kill the fatted calf. We absolutely should celebrate. Every life saved is worth celebrating. And every prodigal that returns should be met with joy. Because it is no small thing.

It took me weeks to write this. Weeks to wrestle with the fact that I relate far more to the older brother than the younger son. Weeks to be willing to admit that in written word. Weeks to realize that God, my Father, knew all this from the very beginning. He created me. He gets me. And so yes, I relate to the older brother, and maybe you do too . . . or maybe you relate more to the prodigal . . . regardless of where you land, He loves you, He wants you, and all that He has is yours.

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.

* Amazing Grace, John Newton, 1772

A Few Thoughts . . .

Yesterday, I watched as absolute chaos ensued in our nation. I prayed and grieved, but I held my tongue because I knew that nothing I was going to say was going to help. This morning I prayed for wisdom . . . for the Holy Spirit to guide my words and use my mouth to speak for Him.

As I was on the treadmill at the gym with worship music blaring in my ears, these words from Glorious Day by Passion rung so true “When I was broken you were my healing, now your love is the air that I’m breathing, I have a future, my eyes are open, ’cause when you called my name, I ran out of that grave . . .”. And the cry of my heart was “Jesus” . . . “I need you Jesus!” . . . “We need you Jesus!” . . . “Our nation needs you Jesus!”

Republicans and Democrats need Jesus.

We are entrenched deep in sin . . . we kill unborn babies . . . we’ve not honored God’s plans for our lives, our families, our marriages . . . we worship men as if they’re a “god” and God as if He’s a man to be used and manipulated . . . hatred, jealousy, bitterness, wrath, envy, backbiting, dishonesty, manipulation . . . idolatry, pride, and out of control ego are the norm and not the exception . . . we have bloodshed and rioting and utter destruction . . . the list goes on. The world is dark. The sin is rampant.

But Jesus.

Nothing is going to change without the blood of Jesus. Nothing will fix this mess we’re in but Jesus. If we want revival . . . if we want healing . . . if we want wholeness . . . it starts and ends, with Christians at the foot of the cross seeking His face and repenting. It starts and ends with us asking the Holy Spirit to lead us in all truth. It starts and ends with us on our knees praying for change in our own hearts.

How can we expect others to come to Christ if we’re not willing to lead the way? If we’re not willing to humble ourselves and repent? If we’re not willing to be the light and let go of the bitterness and hatred in our own hearts?

Despite what others may think, speaking up and speaking out with boldness does not come naturally to me. I will often say that I’m not going to say anything because when I do I make people on both sides of the aisle angry. Believe it or not, I neither enjoy nor relish being hated by anyone. And speaking the truth, even when it’s truth I know without a doubt God has placed on my heart, is rarely met with acceptance. But out of all the bad that has come from 2020, God has taught me the importance of being bold . . . I must speak His truth with boldness, grace, and wisdom no matter who it offends or makes angry.

“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

It’s time for the people of God to seek His face. It’s time to stop making excuses for sin and start standing, fully, on the word of God. It’s time for boldness in Christ. It’s time to walk in humility and true, unconditional love. The only way forward, the only future for us as both individuals and as a nation, is through Christ.

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 About the Soap . . . A Lesson on Serving in Marriage

Getting into the shower only to realize there were two small, broken, pathetic slivers of soap left, I annoyedly got out and took the three short steps it takes to get to the linen closet while two irritated thoughts ran through my head in rapid succession, “Why am I always the one replacing the soap?” and “If I am the one always replacing the soap, then I’ll always be the one replacing the soap.”

And that’s when that still small voice whispered, “It’s about the soap.”

Or picking up the socks . . . doing the laundry . . . making the bed . . . letting the dog out . . . giving the little ones baths . . .

Or maybe it’s about washing the dishes . . . tidying up . . . doing the yard work . . . pulling the trash bin to the road . . . wrestling kiddos to bed . . . paying the bills . . .

It’s about the soap . . .

Marriage, I mean . . . serving . . . commitment and vows . . . loving one another well . . .

It’s not tit for tat. It’s not serving only as much as you’re served. It’s not giving only what you get or about an equal division of labor, his and hers roles, keeping track of everything you do and everything he (or she) doesn’t.

It’s about the soap . . .

It’s about sacrifice in both the big and the small. It’s about choosing to love well on the easy and the hard days . . . yes, even when you’re annoyed. Because y’all love is absolutely a choice and an action and is most definitely not a feeling. It’s about realizing that we all fall short, and we all have hard days. It’s about giving one another a whole lot of grace.

So maybe I’ll always be the one replacing the soap or picking up the socks. And maybe he’ll be the one that always makes the bed or drags the trash bin to the road. And you know what? That’s okay.

It’s about the soap. And that is exactly how it should be.

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.

All The King’s Horses and All The King’s Men

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Could not put Humpty together again.”

There’s a fragility to every single human being that cannot be ignored. No matter how much we may wish . . . no matter how hard we try to shut off and shove down our emotions, heartbreak, and pain, there is no way we’re going to avoid all pain in this life. There are going to be times on our earthly journey where we’re going to be so shattered that no person or thing on this planet can put us back together. I’d even go so far as to say we were created that way.

But God . . .

Two of my favorite words of all time . . . but God . . .

The truth is God created us to do more than just merely exist with other humans. He created us to love and live in relationship with others, and He does want us to play an integral role in the lives of those around us. He never created us for isolation or aloneness, but He also created us in such a way that there is no way, no matter how hard we try or how good we are, that we can fully bring healing or completion or wholeness to one another. Only Jesus can do that for us.

So maybe you’re feeling broken and shattered today, and maybe “all the King’s horses and all the King’s men”, despite their very best attempts, can not put you back together, but rest assured there is a King that not only can but will if only you’ll ask. On the cusp of a new year, I encourage you not to do this alone. Not to face another day, hour, or minute without Jesus. It’s not complicated. All you have to do is simply ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior . . . to forgive your sins and be the One who puts you back together. I promise it is a decision you will never regret.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in 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.” John 3:16-17

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.

*Humpty Dumpty – Mother Goose’s Melody, 1803

Relax . . .

That’s the word I heard as I was going about my weekly cleaning routine, pondering and praying, and wondering, if I were to choose a “word of the year”, what would it be?

Relax . . .

Hard eye roll.

You’re funny God.

Relax . . . it conjures up days of laying on the couch, watching endless movies, and doing little else. And there is nothing wrong with any of that (seriously, absolutely nothing wrong with it at all). It’s exactly what some people need . . . it’s how God made them, but it’s not something for which I’m totally hardwired. I do my best relaxing while moving. My ability to be physically still is very limited. And leaving things undone is anything but relaxing to me. At the same time, I’m learning that I need to learn to stop. To sit still sometimes. To not constantly be in motion.

I was raised with a strong work ethic. “Work first play later” is something I often can be heard saying to my own kids. But like any good thing, a good work ethic can be twisted and distorted into being an obsessive, workaholic (can a stay at home mom be a workaholic?) with a never ending, ever growing list of tasks. In other words, my work is never done so I rarely stop to “play”. And this is something that God has been working on in me, literally, for years.

As I’ve said before I almost never set goals for the new year, and that’s because I’m always setting and adjusting and resetting goals, but going into 2021, after this especially challenging year that 2020 has been, I decided I needed to take the time to get my head on straight. So I prayed about what God wanted for me going forward and decided to set general goals for this year.

  1. Relax . . . “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. “ (Psalm 91:1) . . . dwell . . . rest . . . relax . . . it’s not just a physical thing . . . although sometimes a little physical stillness is something I need to learn to embrace . . . but relax . . . mentally, emotionally, and spiritually . . . stop striving for perfection . . . rest in God . . . it’s a never ending lesson that I seem to be continually learning. There’s nothing wrong with getting things done . . . there’s nothing wrong with discipline . . . with structure and order and schedules (and cleaning everything all the time . . . am I right?), but if it doesn’t happen, if it all comes crashing down, can I let it go? Can I trust God and relax knowing I’m not in control, I never was, but He always is, and because of that, it’s all going to be okay? Can I live out Psalm 91:1?
  2. Continue to develop my spiritual health and growth . . . to get in the word and pray on a regular basis, but also, expand my studying, writing, and journaling.
  3. Continue to make my physical and mental health a priority but not an idol. There’s such a fine line, but I do believe that God calls us take our health seriously and do our part to take care of our bodies while trusting Him to do what we cannot.
    • Physically, the goal is to work out four times/week with at least two strength sessions, but if that doesn’t happen every single week that’s okay too.
    • Mentally (and emotionally), I have already drastically cut back on soc. media . . . particularly on Facebook . . . but I plan to continue to spend far less time on Facebook and Instagram. Not because I have any problems with the platforms in and of themselves, but I find that Facebook disrupts my peace so much, and Instagram is a time suck that interrupts my focus. As someone who used to be an avid reader, I want to read more (open ended goal) and spend far less time on social media.
  4. Stop with the low key judgment . . . I’ve said this before, but most on which we pass judgment has zero moral or ethical implications. Basically, someone does something differently than we (read: I) do, and we are quick to get super “judgy”. God made us all different. So embrace that. You do you, and I’ll do me, and let’s be cool with that.
  5. Priorites . . . keep them straight:
    • First, God – not church, not ministry, but my actual relationship with God.
    • Second, Patrick & my marriage – always working, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, on being a better wife, and second only to my relationship with Christ.
    • Third, Kids – asking the Holy Spirit to teach me and lead me as a mother.
    • Fourth – Church, Home, Extended Family, Everything Else . . .

And those are my 2021 goals. Documented for posterity (and mostly, for myself).

Happy New Year’s Eve y’all. Let’s make 2021 the best yet!

Copyright 2020, 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.

Full of Love, Full of Hope

If you’ve been around for a little while you know I’m not a big New Year’s Resolution/Goal setter. Nor have I ever been a been a big “Word of the Year” person in the past. I wrote this post, Full of Grace, Full of Truth, at the end of 2019 having no idea what lay ahead in 2020. None of us did. Only God knew. As I reread that post, I’m not sure I got there . . . way too often, I administered a healthy dose of truth without any grace . . . but I’m so thankful for a savior who is full of grace . . . I’m so thankful for another opportunity in 2021.

“Though I speak with 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. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies; they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

I can be the holiest, know the bible backwards and forwards, have all the faith in in the world, give everything I have . . . but if I treat others badly, if I don’t have love, it’s all for nothing. I’m nothing more than a “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” . . . translation? To be really blunt, I’m an obnoxious, loud Christian screaming at others to have more faith . . . to be better . . . to be holier . . . bottom line, to be more more like me (definitely should not be your end goal) . . . You know how many people that brings to Jesus? Not many.

It’s. Not. About. Me. It is about Jesus.

That’s the lesson I want to hold onto from 2020, and the truth I want to carry forward into 2021. Love isn’t just a flowery emotion that feels good. That comes and goes as it pleases. It’s an action . . . it’s work . . . it’s actively and intentionally putting others first . . . it’s serving . . . it’s kindness . . . it’s gentleness and humbleness . . . as always, I am a work in progress, but I pray when I look back over this year, that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I see more of God and less of myself with each passing day. That I see the evidence of true love in my own life.

So 2021 . . . still . . . Full of Grace, Full of Truth . . . but also . . . Full of Love, Full of Hope.

Copyright 2020, 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 Incarnate . . .

“God could, had He pleased, have been incarnate in a man of iron nerves, the Stoic sort who lets no sigh escape Him. Of His great humility He chose to be incarnate in a man delicate sensibilities who wept at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane.”

C.S. Lewis

The simplicity of the story of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of a baby, is also what makes it so very profound. Our Savior, came not as a triumphant king, but as a baby born in the most humble of beginnings. Born in a stable. Placed in a manger. A birth witnessed by animals and the angels and celebrated by shepherds. The most significant of nights of which almost no one knew . . . yet the most significant of nights that would forever alter the course of history. A night that brought eternal hope to a perpetually weary world. Without that baby we have no Messiah. Without Christmas no Resurrection. Without the Resurrection no hope.

How thankful I am I serve a God willing to come to earth as a babe knowing we could never be good enough to reach Him. How thankful I am for those humble beginnings just over 2000 years ago. How thankful I am for the hope of Christ today.

From Luke Chapter 2

Christ Born of Mary

1And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Glory in the Highest

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Whatever you are facing this year. However your Christmas may look, may you know that our hope lies not in celebrations or gifts or gatherings, but in a savior born in a manger, crucified as a man, and risen as our Messiah. May you know true hope and peace this Christmas.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

– Isaiah 9:6-7

Copyright 2020, 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.