Friday, November 20, 2009
Tragedy. That’s what my life has been. One thing after another, over and over again. True, I have had some moments of cheerful bliss, times of respite between the trials, and I am hoping beyond hope that those days will return once more. My friends, my husband, my children…all figments of the past, mere memories now. Yet, I do have hope. I will not allow myself to slip into the murky waters of despair. I may have to suffer the choppy waves for a while, but I can see the clear, glassy lake ahead.
It was years ago that I first felt the pain of loss. Some of you may have heard how my first friend, my brother of sorts, suffered at the hands of a cruel two-legged beast. He was marred, forced to walk with a limp that rendered him unable to defend himself against this pitiless world. As time went on, he began to slow down and be less and less able to keep up with the others and me as we wandered about. Then, one day, he was gone. Vanished without a trace. I mourned for a time, wondering where he could have gone. The two-legged ones say they had nothing to do with his disappearance, but I have a feeling that they are not as truthful as they seem.
By and by, I finally accepted this and was able to move past.
The next summer, my spirits were lifted at the arrival a new fellow. He was handsome and strong and we fell for each other immediately. My Francis, Francis Drake, he was called. We spent all of our time together and were soon expecting a large brood of children. Patiently I waited, anxious for them to arrive into our world. But that day never came. In the dead of night, over and over again, I was assaulted, and my precious ones were slowly disappearing. The creature that took them from me was much stronger than either of us; we never had a chance. Soon, they were all gone. I was confused for days, and wandered aimlessly, calling out, trying to find them. Of course, that endeavor was fruitless.
Small condolence was made when we adopted four children. They were not like us, but we loved them all the same. Yet, they grew up quickly and I was once again left with an empty nest.
Francis and I made up for it by exploring. We wandered hither and thither, all across the countryside. Something we enjoyed together was water. For the longest time, there was no convenient swimming hole nearby, so we had to make do with splashing about in small pools of water. Though, at last, the two-legged ones decided that we deserved a place large enough to suit our needs.
If you happened to glance our way during that autumn, you most likely could have spotted us, Francis and I, swimming contentedly in the watering hole. And, we were happy then. So joyously happy.
Yet, it, too, was not to last. As if taking my friend and my children were not enough....oh, my dear husband! Why? Why did you have to go? He was murdered. Slain by a beast, perhaps one not unlike he who took my children away. The fiend! The monster! To take the life of the one I held so dear? Why, I ask again. Why?
Alas, my tale is near its end. You may recall my saying that I have hope. How? you ask, when my life has been so wretched? I have hope. Hope that I can make dear Francis's legacy live on. I am once again expecting children. It will be only a matter of weeks before I will know. The two-legged ones are skeptical. "Poor girl," they say. "It will never happen. It's been too long." But I have a feeling...and I have hope.
Monday, November 9, 2009
This is a similar article, also written by Bryan Davis, but focusing on young men instead of women.
Whether you love books or broadswords, as a young man you are wired for greatness. You want to take a step above the norm and rise high above mediocrity. You desire excellence in all things. From head to heart, you want to be a knight in shining armor.
As a knight, your weapons and armor are many and varied—wisdom from above, unblinking courage, a rock-like steadfastness of spirit, unshakable faith, and swords both physical and spiritual. No matter which weapon you choose, make sure you are battle-ready, trained for the conflicts that lie ahead. This training requires discipline of body, mind, and soul, so that your righteousness through Jesus Christ will shine and never fade.
If you embrace this passion and put it into practice, you will be a bright light in a culture that prefers dimness. Some will be drawn to your light, to your high standards, because they feel within themselves a calling to be more than they are now. Others will be repelled, because they cannot stand the thought that someone is mounting the summit while they have chosen a lower path. These might try to drag you down.
In either case, your example will stand firm. You will lift up those who reach out for help, and you will resist those who try to pull you into their mire. You will be a hero to those needing a champion, and you will be unblemished though detractors hurl invectives.
God is the power behind your steadfastness, and His standards are the code that guides your behavior. Many have marched this path before you. Your foundation has been built with the bricks of men who are unafraid to flex their muscles and is held together by the mortar of masculine courage. With faith in God’s promises, you can follow that code. You can change the world.
How? By living the standard. You will tell the truth in a world of lies, remain loyal in a land of betrayal, and work faithfully in a culture of excuses. Even your friends might think you are overzealous, and in this zeal you might stand alone. Yet your peculiar faithfulness makes you trustworthy, even in the eyes of pretenders. Your loyalty is unquestioned, even among the unfaithful. If a lie of expediency whispers its desire to be told, a horde of lesser men will stampede to tell it. Not you. To speak a falsehood is to spew poison, and you will not allow a drop of venom to leave your tongue, even if offered the treasure of Solomon or threatened with death.
Our culture celebrates the lie. It laughs at the deceptive antics of bumbling fools on television. It elects politicians who tell the most convincing fables. It winks at “white lies” that allow a man to skip an annoying meeting or avoid a tiresome caller by saying, “Oh, I can’t talk to him right now. Tell him I’m out to lunch.”
And with one shady statement, this man falls from being a knight to being a knave. He thinks he’s running with the big dogs, but he’s really wallowing with the pigs.
Although there will always be someone willing to accuse you of wrongdoing, you must be careful never to give your enemies a real reason to question your character. You are called to be a beacon fueled by true purity. You are to reflect to the world what you really are in your heart—holy and pure. Your ability to remain unstained in this culture is the light that will draw other people to the same standard by which you live. Your duty is to keep yourself spotless by abstaining from anything that would soil your reputation. Why? Because the light you shine is easily dimmed in the eyes of others.
Men of lesser nobility fear this standard, yet not because of a specific portion of its grand design or a particular rule of conduct. They fear the specter of a man who actually follows these precepts, for once you prove that such a standard is attainable, those who prefer mediocrity no longer have an excuse for their behavior, and your light exposes them for what they are.
Many of you will choose a young maiden to help you in this quest, someone who will support you with strength of her own, someone who will bind your wounds and whisper words of encouragement as she sends you charging back into battle. Choose carefully—not the woman who attracts with smiles and skin, but rather the woman who proves her heart through service, discernment, and integrity. If she finds joy in worship and hard work, peace in the midst of persecution, and contentment even when her pockets are empty, then she will be the soul mate you need to endure the long and difficult road ahead. Since she embraces the same standard you hold dear, she will lift your arms should they sag in weariness and infuse you with assurance should your confidence falter. Face and form will change through the years, but a saintly woman’s heart will last forever.
So as you go forward as a living example of this standard, pay heed to the counsel of those who have blazed the trail. It is a long journey, filled with potential hazards, but it is one that a young man who lives by the sword of the Spirit will be able to complete, and you will find applause at the end of the road, not only from those who have cheered you along the way, but from God, Himself, who created the code of conduct and fashioned you into the exemplary model He hoped you would be.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
"She is born with a passion to uplift, empower, and support. She is the mainstay and sail for the captain’s ship. She is the heat in the warrior’s resolve and the salve that heals his wounds. She is the heart that pumps vitality to every joint and sinew. Yes, she is a woman.
Every girl in existence has been lovingly fashioned—from her caring and sensitive brain, to her tender and compassionate hands, to her tireless feet—to be a pillar of strength and resolve. While she might not be a warrior who draws a sword, she is the healer who strengthens the warrior’s hands and heart. Without her, every weapon would drop in futility, every muscular arm would wilt, and every pair of tired legs would shuffle home in defeat, for the heart that drives the warrior forward has stopped beating.
Some young women choose to take up the sword themselves, to step out alone in the midst of darkness to carry a lantern to the lost, to battle oppression and bring relief to the abused and neglected, or to transport life-giving supplies to the destitute wherever they may be. Their partner is the Spirit of Christ, and their sword is His word. They must know Him well if they hope to shine His light and pierce the darkness without the help of an intimate human partner.
Speak the truth. Live the truth. Be the truth. Never let the faithless ones persuade you to abandon any of those three principles. Remember that you are an oracle of fire, as is every faithful follower of our Lord. For all true disciples possess the pure silver, purged of all dross, and the fire of God’s love burns within, an everlasting flame that others, even those who merely give lip-service to the truth, will never comprehend until you are able to pass along that fire from heart to heart.
Many girls will choose to partner with another in this pursuit, hoping to be the light, the energy, and the drive that pulses within the breast of another. Yet, some never discover what it means to be such a heart. They never learn the secret of the captain’s sail or the recipe of the healing salve. Why? Because they listen to a counterfeit call, a trumpet blaring a falsehood—that their beauty is a lure to capture rather than an inspiration to set free. The inner desire to help and support becomes a lust to take and own. The hope to hear words of affirmation that she has been a good and faithful helpmate transforms into a hopeless search for eyes that admire and lips that speak words of appreciation for her outward appearance rather than for the beauty of her soul. And such a search never ends in true satisfaction.
You, however, are listening to your creator’s call, a gentle voice within that whispers reminders of how you were really fashioned, to be a woman of virtue, of inner beauty, of priceless value. The trumpet announces your need to strut, expose, and seduce, while the inner voice sings of ways to dress your soul in virtue—to feed the hungry, cover those laid bare, infuse encouragement into the hearts of the downtrodden, and nurture the victims of poverty, disease, and abandonment.
As a young woman of virtue, you understand what will happen if you heed the trumpet’s call to lure with flesh and flair. You will draw attention, but from whom? Someone who values face and form but not the heart. He will take, use, and abuse. His desire is for his own benefit, because what his eyes perceive is a girl who offers to fulfill the cravings of his body, and he responds, not with love, but with lust for his own satisfaction. And when your flower of youth fades, he will not perceive value in your soul, and you will never achieve the holy union of hearts for which you were created.
If you listen to the creator’s call, you will suffer temporary loss. When you pour out compassion and pity instead of skin and superficiality, you will be considered old-fashioned, out-of-touch, a prude. Yet, within the fair bosom you are saving for a true warrior, you will be nurturing a heart of unspoiled beauty, for it has not been taken at a cheap price. It has not been hardened by a wolf who captures, abuses, and leaves. And with such a heart, you will be able to reach out and be the captain’s sail, the warrior’s reason for drawing his sword, and the soothing salve for hearts less whole than your own.
The heart of a woman is more precious than pearls, and a man of worth sees it as a priceless treasure. He knows that she is the energy that drives his purpose, and without her, the pursuit of his vision for God’s purpose will be sluggish indeed. For the honor of taking that heart to join with him in fulfilling that vision, he will give his life, his heart, and his soul. The woman who has prepared her heart for that adventure will never regret the small price she paid. Scorn fades, and satisfaction blossoms. Contempt crumbles to dust, and contentment rises in its place. Ridicule is forgotten, while refreshment of the soul lives for as long as the heart pumps its life-giving energy.
Whether you take up the sword yourself or choose to unite with a warrior, now is the time to live according to this standard. It might seem that you are walking the path alone, yet, you are never alone. The One who planted the heart within you will never leave your side, and He will continue to sing the song that fashioned you as a woman of virtue. Listen. It is there. You will have to tune out the surrounding noise, but the sounds of love and virtue will never be silenced, if only you know the Singer and His song."
Sunday, November 1, 2009
“No, really! Please, just come and see!”
“Rhoda, that is enough!”
Rhoda groaned and tried one more time. “Please John! You have to believe me! The Apostle Peter is really here! I heard him knocking and ran up to the gate. He told me who he was and I came to get you. Please come!”
“It is simply not possible. You must have been imagining things.”
Rhoda sighed again and went to Mary, John’s mother. “The Apostle Peter has returned! Please ma’am, you must believe me!”
“Come now, Rhoda. We are all tired. It must have been something else.” Mary turned back around and resumed her conversation.
“See! I told you!”
“Oh, hush. Who knows who that could be?” John slid aside a tiny window in the door and peeked through it. Letting out a gasp, he swung the door open as fast as possible. “Brother!”
“I wondered when someone was going to answer the door!” Peter stepped through the doorway and wrapped John into a manly embrace. Then he turned to Rhoda. “Well, young lady, I was beginning to think you had forgotten about me!”
Rhoda’s face turned beet red. “Sorry, Sir. I suppose I was too excited to answer the door. Then, when no one would believe me, I guess I…” She laughed nervously. “I guess I forgot you were here.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it, Miss. Now, where are the others? Have I got a story for them!”
“Right this way. We have been praying together all evening.” John stepped back into the light of the room, Rhoda and Peter trailing behind. Astonished gasps greeted their ears, followed by amazed exclamations.
The people swarmed around Peter, all asking questions at once. “Friends, friends, please,” he said, motioning for them all to be quiet. “I must have your ears for a moment. An amazing thing has taken place tonight, a miracle.”
At this, everyone fell silent. Each person took a seat on a bench or on the floor, eyes and ears trained on the apostle standing before them.
“As you may have heard,” he began. “Our fellow disciple, James, that is, the brother of John, has been killed.”
Gasps rose from the group, but Peter rose his hand to quiet them again. They settled down and he began once more. “This was the doing of Herod. He saw that by murdering John, the people became pleased. So he arrested me as well.
“They placed me in prison, surrounded by four squadrons of soldiers. It seemed that Herod planned to bring me out and kill me before the people- sometime near Passover. Escape didn’t seem likely. Yet, I knew that if it was the Lord’s will for me to die, I was content. I prayed continuously, and many others were praying for me as well.
“Tonight, the night before Herod was to bring me out and kill me, I had a vision. At least, I thought it was a vision. I had been bound by two chains, and placed between two soldiers. There were even guards in front of the prison. Suddenly, a bright light shone, and an Angel of the Lord appeared beside me! He struck me on the side and commanded me to arise. The chains fell off my hands. He said to me, ‘Gird yourself and tie on your sandals.’ I obeyed and followed him out of the prison.
“We passed by the first and second guard posts, and then came to the gate leading to the city. It opened all by itself! Once the Angel of the Lord led me down one of the streets, he disappeared. I finally realized that I had not had a vision, but an angel had truly led me out of prison!
“I came to find you, to tell you of this miraculous thing. Go to James, the son Alphaeus, and tell him and the brethren of these things. I must leave you know, and depart to another place. Remember to pray!” With this he turned and left.
Rhoda stared after him in amazement. She had heard of angels appearing in the old days, the days of Moses and the judges, but to hear it directly from someone who had seen it- she was speechless! The people around her began murmuring to each other and she continued to sit in a daze. Mary came up and nudged her.
“Time for bed, dear. We have a big day tomorrow.”