Posted by: Donna Douglass | Saturday April 10, 2021

The Cost

The Cost, Part 1: Count the cost.

For the Japanese to join Jesus, it means leaving their own family, their culture and everything familiar. For tribal Africans it may mean physical banishment from their clan and thus even deeper poverty than before. In North Africa it may cost your job and any possible livelihood. In Sudan, it may well cost your life.

As I read Jesus say, “Count the cost” in one of my eight Bibles in five language not to mention the Bible apps on my laptop and phone, I prop my feet up and sit my tea. And wonder, “What cost?”

Is it the cost of feeling guilty if I miss church? Or the dirty look someone gave me when I demonstrated in support of the unborn? Or feeling as if people think I have no brain because I believe this Bible? Maybe it’s the financial cost of tithing my ten percent, though I hardly even notice it missing.

Then I saw someone caught in sin. I tried to clarify what I perceived but to my gentle questions, she fought back with angry, bitter words. Though she was clearly acting counter to the Bible, her smooth ways with people snowed them. And they believed her when she smeared my name to all who would listen to her woes. When I asked church leadership to speak to her with me, in accordance with the Bible’s direction, they too shied away.

And the road they followed her down killed all the women’s ministry in the church. Satan smiled at the division among believers.

I continued bumbling down the road of victory interspersed with failure, only to experience it again: Christ-followers choosing personal feelings, wants and comfort over the clear direction of Scripture. Only this time it became a cancer that threatened entire families, tore marriages apart and fomented a church split. All because someone didn’t deal with an issue when it became an issue, but instead chose the road of gossip.

As I browsed Amazon for my latest want, it occurred to me what our cost is here in the wealthy, independent West. Not hunger. Not poverty. Not leaving our culture and family. It is leaving the emotional armchair to resolve our differences with others who share the same Spirit.

The Cost, Part 2. Don’t pay this cost.

You see, there is a cost either way.

I heard a poor wife gossip about her husband and I said nothing. I witnessed a man refusing to tithe even as an elder of his church. But I stayed in my emotional armchair, blending into the culture of personal comfort and lying to myself that this was between them and God.

Years passed. The woman became a bitter divorcee, her children far from Jesus. The man gave ever more of his life to making a buck until he ran off with his secretary and turned his back on God.

More years passed and I stood before God. Before He spoke, He pointed at those two poor souls crying out from across the great chasm. “These were your brothers and sisters, with whom you shared my Spirit. Why did you not help them when I let you see their weakness?” He asked. “You see, I designed it so that you’d help each other. Keep each other safe from those fires. But you chose your own emotional comfort. ‘Grace and peace,’ you called it.

“You refused to pay the cost. Now they do.”

Posted by: Donna Douglass | Thursday March 18, 2021

Of helicopters and tesseracts

“All this I will give you,” Satan swept his arm to indicate the kingdoms stretching to the horizon, “if you will bow down and worship me.” But Jesus turned His back on all that and issued His command: “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Later, bowed before God, He would cry out, “Father, if you are willing, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”

What was it that Jesus knew? Suffering comes before glory. Jesus “made himself nothing…becoming obedient to the point of death…Therefore, God has highly exalted him…” His exaltation, his glory, came only after – and as a result of – His obedience and suffering. That’s how it works.

A seed drops, dies in a sense and is buried before it rises again in the glory of a spring tulip or the life-giving sustenance of an apple tree. Mothers go through the travail of childbirth before the glory of a sweet baby’s embrace. Even new businesses go through the turmoil of start-up before the glory of success. Suffering is a necessary element of the path to glory and glory only comes after the suffering (though of course glory is never guaranteed).

Elsewhere, we glorify grace and peace. But have we examined the map to those destinations?

On the journey to Grace, we suddenly notice Repentance and Humility. And on the path to Peace we might find that someone’s tried to erase Confrontation and Reconciliation. But let us consider…

Into the sanctuary swaggers a surly fellow, pint in hand, spilling generously and slurs, “I wanna be baptithed!” Do we graciously dunk him at the next opportunity, letting all our Bible-derived guidelines be bowled over by the desires of an individual? Of course not. That would be the response of a doormat.

But if that same gentleman demonstrates remorse at his struggles, humbly seeking help and forgiveness, then we can be strong in extending Grace.

Or in tromps Athena, paintbrush held high, leading sanders, preppers and painters in her train. “We will make these walls an acceptable color,” she bellows. Are we to bow to her whim in the name of Peace? Again, the doormat applies.

But when she comes alone, perhaps with one other, to a gentle confrontation with a goal of reconciling why that room is such a horrid color, we can discuss openly and come to the place of Peace.

Thus, we know that the journey to Grace travels through Repentance and Humility and that the path to Peace passes through Confrontation and Reconciliation. Looking closer, we recognize that progress to Peace moves through Confrontation of Issue and stays far, far away from Condemnation of Person. We do know these things when we see them in clear light.

Why, then, do we expect to arrive at Glory, Grace and Peace without traveling the rough roads that lead to them? There are no helicopters nor tesseracts* in the spiritual world, nor that of relationships.

*A wrinkle in time and space that enables instant transfer from one place and situation to another without having to pass through distance and time to arrive there. From A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engel).

Posted by: Donna Douglass | Sunday February 14, 2021

The Israelites and me

I passed through the birth canal like they passed through the Red Sea. Together we were birthed into the wilderness of the growing up years, full of rules and guidelines until we reached a measure of maturity. At that point we all made the choice to go in to the Promise Land, or as Jesus called it, the Kingdom of God, and were baptized, them in the Jordan River and me in New Mexico. Together we were told to cast out all the sin in that land, the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites…my anxiety, my temper, my right to my own free choice. Together we lived sans earthly king.

Studying through Judges, the story of their years with no king, I see their fall, distrusting God, disobeying God, forgetting Who He is and finally rebelling against any concept of God as they each “did what was right in their own eyes.” As I watch my country, and the world at large, follow that course, will I go with it?

Or will I route out my sin, as identified by “It’s just my…” or “I have a right to…” or “I’m just that way”? Will I be among the counter-cultural, faithful few, like Boaz and Ruth who used their strength to submit to the rule of the unseen King who is coming?

Posted by: Donna Douglass | Friday July 3, 2020

Life Lessons from my Dog, Part 4

Sometimes our Aussi hounds me.

Sometimes she just does a drive-by lick to let me know she’s there and that she is still refusing to learn not to lick people (good luck with that lesson with a houseful of kids!). Other times she hounds me, tangling among my legs or resting her chin on my thigh and “talking” until I acknowledge her. Often the hounding is a request for scratches. Since I have the longest nails in the house, she likes my scratching the best, especially in shed-season.

Occasionally I’ll even go for the Grand Scratch and take her outside to be brushed. On those occasions, we settle in for the long haul, filling the sky above our lawn with wafting dog fluff. Reminiscent of the “sandwich method,” I usually do a brief enjoyable brush around her neck before detangling the less pleasant long rump hair. I finish in the middle, going over and over her sides and back. And over and over. And over. On the twentieth journey from shoulders to rump, every bit as much hair is still floating away on the light breeze as on the first pass.

Incredible. I could do this all day, and she’d still have just as much hair and yet I’d still get as much out every time. Kind of like little home-running tasks. When I’ve done a million of them in a day, there are still no less left to do. Clearly, it’s time to just take a break and play a game with a kid!

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