The Whiskey Chronicles 25 – Happy the Way I Am

“Don’t worry…, be happy.” Yada, yada, yada.

    In this year, 2023, I actually know people who see being happy as their ONLY life goal. To be happy! I don’t know if it’s because they’re young (thirtysomething) or I’m old (no comment), but this seems like a totally self-absorbed objective.

      My life, all/most of it, at least, has been about making a difference in our world. The tagline for my life has been, for a long time, honor God, honor people…, make a difference. So, it somewhat bugs me when some other people just want to be happy.


       For me, happiness is a byproduct of making a difference. I have a lot of friends who live to make a difference— every day. They are NOT happy the way they are. They are NOT happy the way you are. Our world is full of too much pain, too much conflict, and too much anger, and way too much desire for retaliation for us to be concerned only with our own happiness.

       If you are happy with the way you are, you had better be making a major difference in improving the state of our fellow man/women. If you are only able to give money, can you give more? If you serve as a volunteer in a homeless shelter, have you fallen in love with their guests? If you serve overseas in a medical clinic, are you interested in further training in some medical field?

       On the other hand, if you are happy the with the way you are and you are doing little to nothing to make a difference in our world…, how can you be happy?!?

       God forgive you…, if you believe in a god, that is. If not, may the people of this world forgive you.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©

NEXT— I’m OK— you’re out of your mind

The Whiskey Chronicles 24 – Salvation from… What?

As I peruse the intellectual, practical functions of Western Culture I find little understanding of Christian faith. So when we tell people of their need of salvation their general response is— from what?

       On one hand the church in the West has lost its ability to express its beliefs in a language that people can grasp. But it’s worse than that. People truly do not know that there is anything wrong with them.

       When Thomas Harris (M.D.) released his classic I’m OK: You’re OK in 1967, he could not have had an idea of its subsequent far-reaching effects. The title says it all. None of us really have a problem. There’s no right, no wrong, no anything. Everything is simply a matter of perspective.

       If people do sense any need for salvation they will work it out for themselves. There was no need for Christ to die for our sins. There is no sin. We’re all OK.

       Do we really believe this?

       My wife and I have many friends who don’t come close to being Christians. We are a novelty for them, but they still like us. There is something to be said for loving and not condemning. Something to be said for accepting them for where they are in life…, and in the process teaching them about God. The key ingredient in our relationships with them is prayer. We rarely say anything; but we pray. PRAYER is always the underlying foundation for our relationships with people— Christian and Normal.

       In many ways I’ve grown used to their complete ignorance about our faith and about our Lord. Explaining their need for Christ and his salvation is like drawing a white rabbit in a snow field. Blank. Still, we are called to love these people in their ignorance.

       They cannot save themselves. They do not know this. Nor are they aware of the glory and blessing that awaits them in the safe arms of Jesus. Rather, He is seen as a threat to their individuality and freedom. Have we done that to them with a hundred years of hellfire and brimstone preaching? I don’t know that either. But I am sure that our constant calling them to account for their sins hasn’t shown much mercy and grace. One more reason to find the Christian message baffling.

       I pray that, one day, people will see their need of Christ and His salvation. It is still freely offered. And it will be offered through the likes of us.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©


NEXT— I am happy the way I am.

The Whiskey Chronicles 23 – No need for religion, Let alone Jesus Christ

 As I wander through the lives of my friends it no longer surprises me that they have no need of religion, let alone Jesus Christ. Their lives are engulfed in work, families, extra-curricular activities, sports, etc. They have no time to consider that there might be a God in the heavens who wants to give them everything He has. All they have to say, “Huh!”

     Ah! But there are “hoops”  to jump through! Membership in the Christian Club costs, right. They’ve come to believe that our faith is all about bondage, rules, and limitations on their lives. And they want none of it.

  All people see is subservience to a holy God who wants to subjugate them even more to His laws and limits.

     This comes after years of viewing the Church as a symbol of authority rather than a gateway to freedom from everything that binds people. If it is true that the Gospel points out sin, then it is equally true that Jesus Christ sets us free from our bondage to sin. Stating the obvious? Yes. But we rarely live as if we are free.

     So also do normal people look at our message and see, not freedom & forgiveness, but “Christian” rules and regulations to bind them. How then does that draw them to our gospel of life? Have you ever been hurt? Who hasn’t. How about doubts about whether this whole Christian thing is true? An accurate interpretation of reality? Many of us have.

     What about being betrayed of judged by another Christian? Yeah. Right. People who do not follow Christ’s way of life see it all. And they are skeptical about our claims of the “abundant life,” of the unity of our faith, and the freedom we know in Christ.

     How did we get here? Short of a lesson in church history, we have forgotten our first love. We have traded Christian love and community for positions of power and authority. One-upmanship.

     If ever our world is to see the love and salvation we share in our faith, then we have got to stop dividing against one another. We need to come together on critical issues of faith and practice. It is our hearts of compassion and forgiveness that our secular friends want…, & need.

“By this will everyone know that you are my disciples; that you love one-another.” [John 13:35]

     Years ago, a young college girl from Nigeria asked Starr and me how she could become a Christian. I replied “Why do you want to become a Christian?” Her response took us by surprise. “Because of the way I see you two love each other.” That hasn’t changed.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©

The Whiskey Chronicles 22 – Ships passing in the night

 I once gave my wife a greeting card of two ships passing in the night. In reference to our busy lives, the inside simply read We’re like two ships passing in the bathroom. Too true.

     Applying this to our interactions with normal people we are much the same. Too many of us are simply oblivious to their need for our Lord. Oh, we know it to be true on a mental level; but that doesn’t often translate to a personal level. We are ships passing in the night.

     We spend our lives with people who have increasingly less and less comprehension of the Christian message of salvation, faith, and forgiveness than at any other time in modern history. In a sense we have entered a new Dark Ages for the Christian faith.

     It is true that most people reject the Christian faith. But now they reject it out of ignorance more than out of understanding. They do not reject the salvation of Christ out of disagreement; rather, they simply ignore it. We just do not take the time to understand their world enough to explain our faith to them in a format that they can understand and respond to.

     It rests on us to do the hard work of giving our message a context. Some of the areas we must consider are— language, reference points, past inaccuracies, trust, prior knowledge, prior misinformation, bad experiences with other believers, sad experience in the church.

       Then again, we constantly explain the facts of our faith without couching it in love. This is not the gospel. The offering of our Lord to someone always needs His embracing love as its cradle. Calling a person to repentance must have a framework of forgiveness. Why would anyone repent if there were no offering of forgiveness? Beheading certainly does not encourage one to repent.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©


NEXT— no need for religion, or Christ


The Whiskey Chronicles 21 – Inaccurate, Inappropriate, & Unintelligible

       One of the issues I have with our Christian message is that it too often comes across as inaccurate, inappropriate, and unintelligible. The general problem in Europe, Asia, China, South Africa, Canada, and the United States is that our message is being presented in such a manner that it does not relate to the normal peoples of these cultures. We are religious freaks to most normal people. All of us.

       And we speak a language that is totally unintelligible to them. We tell them that they are sinners; and that has no point of reference for them. Hitler, maybe; but not us.

       And we choose the most inappropriate times to bring up our faith and their lack of faith. [Birthday parties and celebrations are NOT the time.] Seriously, who do we think we are?!? We just don’t get it!

       Then our understanding of their life and world is, for the most part, completely out-of-touch. We make assumptions about what non-Christians believe, the way they live, and what they think of us without ever asking them directly. We hold an inaccurate estimation of our pagan brothers & sisters that adds to the rift between us. Thus, my position of the importance of a dram of Single Malt Scotch. [More on that later.]

       We need to make more of an effort to walk in their world, in their successes and struggles, than we have been. Without Judgement! God is their Judge. We are not. We are their fellow beggar telling them where we have found bread.

       At the very least, we should walk alongside them, in the gutter, in the Board Room, in the prison, in the restaurant, in the supermarket, in our neighborhoods. This is imperative.

       Our job is not only to point them to our Lord. It is to be their companion as we travel the road together.

       Learn their language. Do not judge it. Listen to their struggles. Do not judge them. Hold their hearts in your hands. Do not crush them. Celebrate like crazy with them wherever we can! Do not hold back.

       And invite them into your lives, into your struggles and celebrations. Be REAL with people. Kill the nice Christian façade.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! 


NEXT— we are like ships passing in the night— our constant mindset

New Years 2023

New Years Eve by the Fire

       It’s late. I’m sitting by the fire next to our Christmas Tree remembering so much of the good, the bad, and the ugly of this past year.

       I entered 2022 with a final radiation treatment for cancer. A year later, it seems that I’ve beat it. Praise God!

       In many ways I have new eyes to see. Not just new lenses in my eyes, but personal/spiritual eyes as well.

       Our Lord has been honing and refining me through extended times with Him. A lot of my arrogance-of-accomplishment has been ripped away; polishing continues. My personality has also been tempered to become more like Christ’s. We extroverts have a tough time with that.

       One thing that has helped with that is Christmas. Every year, especially in these recent years, the miracle of Christmas— that the God of the Universe would take the form of a helpless baby to be born to a 16 year old out-of-wedlock Jewish girl, in a backwater town in an insignificant Roman province in an era with little considerable technology, is still a miracle to me.

       I had become a Christian after trying to live various philosophies of life when I was in college. To say I was a basket case would have been obvious. For two years I struggled to find any other explanation of life, save the Christian one. But the only belief system, the only existential, reasonable I constantly returned to was Christianity. Thus, 60 years later, it is the only adequate faith I have found that fits reality best. Wow!

       So as you and yours enter 2023, inspect your faith. Does it answer life’s most difficult questions? Does assist you in making daily decisions? Does it provide you with a basic rubric for living? Is it still reasonable? Reliable? Realistic?

       Have you updated your faith to meet the challenges our culture today? Or are you still in the same ‘ol, same ol’ format of faith formed for the late 1940s and early 1950s?

       These are the meanderings of my mind as I welcome in 2023. What a fantastic way to start a new year! Do with them what you will. I’m going to bed.


Gary & Starr

Image Credit-  Gary Davis

The Whiskey Chronicles 21 – Foreign Concepts

Formerly, most Christian communication was based on common ground. People had a basic comprehension of the Christian faith that we relied upon in presenting our gospel to them. That is no longer the case.

         It’s wiser in our era to assume that people, in America and worldwide, have little to NO understanding of the basic tenets of the Christian worldview. We have lost our voice to those around us. We are no longer seen as part of the solution; we are considered part of the problem.

         Many of my friends think our world would be better off if all Christians would just go away.

      Over the last 50 years western culture has seen the introduction, the invasion, of foreign concepts to the general public. Our universities, once closely tied to our faith, have turned their backs on Christian beliefs. If anything, Christianity is mocked and dismissed in schools of “higher learning.”

      Personally, I like having all these foreign concepts welling up from the grass roots. But too many Christians still cling to that ol’ time religion, the way it used to be, semi-annual revival meetings, the simple gospel, etc. If it is true, that 85.33% of our world is considered Developing Nations then the same percentage still needs our Christian message on their level. But for the other 15% of wealthy, dominant countries, our gospel must be couched in a format and language appropriate to their level of society.

      For that culture, our culture, we must offer an intelligent, well formulated Christian message that considers the hodgepodge of foreign concepts that our society has been exposed to. The simple gospel communicates little to nothing to this postmodern, postChristian world.

      We cannot offer a Third World gospel to a postChristian humanity.

      I gave my wife Starr a greeting card with two ships passing in the night on the cover. We didn’t have enough time for each other. The inside of the card simply read— We’re like two ships passing in the bathroom. Far too often we are like two faiths passing in our culture; one Christian, one totally unaware of who we are and what we believe. And in many ways our cocooning has lost any understanding of who they are in their own world as well.

      In postChristian America, as elsewhere, our rich faith has also become a foreign concept within our society. WE are the outsiders trying to break through the barriers that surround us.


1.       Get to know your healthy pagan neighbors.

2.       Go out with the boys (for that drink?) after work.

3.       SHUT UP! Listen.

4.       Play in their world.

5.       Use this Christmas to love on them.

6.       YOU throw the New Year’s Eve Party. Provide the Asprin.

7.       We need to love the hell out of these people. OK?!?

      Christianity has become the foreign voice in modern culture, worldwide. Get used to it. What we formerly designated as pre-Evangelism must now be incorporated into the context of what we are trying to say.

      Then again…, has it ever been otherwise?

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©


NEXT— inaccurate, inappropriate, or unintelligible information

The Whiskey Chronicles 22- Fear & Disgust

       Another issue normal people face when considering our Christian faith is the disgust they have with the uncovered activities of many Christian leaders and the practices of too many Christian organizations. We are not a church without spot or blemish.

       People expect more from a group that claims to know the God of the universe in a pure and personal way. They expect more from Christian leaders who cut corners, who play the edges of the gospel, and live lives that are less than reputable.

       No wonder people are skeptical of the veracity and practice of our faith. What we confess that Jesus is the way, the Truth, and the life, but that doesn’t match the way we live. So we come across as duplicitous to too many people. I’ve been guilty of this myself— this conflicting nature. For that, I am truly sorry. I apologize. Please forgive me.

            The onus remains on us to live lives that lift up our Lord Jesus. But our people are not yet fully redeemed. We are an imperfect people, struggling to be transformed by the indwelling Christ. Regrettably, too many of us have been poor representatives of the God we serve. And people outside our faith stand ready to point that out and condemn our failures.

       We need to ask ourselves— What do we need to change in our behavior so people will be less disgusted with us and our faith in Christ?

1.      For one, we need to live reputable lives— not lives that bend the rules or distract from the purity of life that our Lord has obtained for us.

2.      Then…̶̶  we need to strive to live lives of sacrifice. For example, most of us give to causes we believe in within the scope of our budget. But should we not also set aside some money for emergency giving? People often have special needs that arise unexpectedly. What if we could have a Special Needs Fund (SNF) ready to give to people on the spot?

3.      I know I’ve said this before but I believe it so important to learn to love people as the foundation of the Gospel. All the outlines or presentations we design are nothing without a context of love. So the question we must answer is— Can we love people the way our Lord loved them, with no condemnation?! This implies that we put aside our own peculiar prejudices and attitudes about them. They are not a perfect group of people: neither are we.

4.      We need to take down our own masks that hide the work of Christ within. We tend to put on a good face for people who don’t understand our faith. On the contrary we need to display out real selves, as Christians, with all our warts and failings. Why are we so afraid to be more transparent in our faith?

5.      We need to learn to lead lives that are covered with prayer; not prayer as a passing fancy, but prayer that is a passion. Western Christians are not very passionate about much anymore. We must develop passionate lives that exude the praise to our Lord. Sedate, moderate Christianity will accomplish little in a volatile society.

       If people are disgusted with us, even fearful, we need to change the ways we live to reflect more goodness toward life, and love for those around us.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©


NEXT— foreign concepts

The Whiskey Chronicles 19- Do Not Know ANY Genuine Christians

       One of the major issues normal people face is that they don’t know any genuine Christians. They may know some, but the Christians have not made their faith evident to them. Or, their faith is not evident to other people in general.

       Most normal people are not simply going to pick up a Bible and start reading. In our biblically illiterate society that could be disastrous They are more likely to be attracted to someone they believe is a Christian and talk with them about what they see. The problem we face today is that our Christian faith is not all that distinguishable. Christians do not readily talk about their faith. Many cannot even articulate it clearly.

       Too many Christians do not lead very Christian lives. We are not known for being a loving people. We are not known for being overly sacrificial, let alone giving freely to those in need.

       So, it has become somewhat difficult to identify the true Christians in our society.

       Then there are the caricatures of Christians we seem to have everywhere. I’ve met them: so have you. Sadly, so have many others who now want nothing to do with our faith because of them.

       What would be the marks of the genuine Christians within our society?

1.      Giving. Constantly! Everywhere and to as many people or services as possible…, and not just to Christians services. Paying someone’s mortgage/rent for a month.

2.      Feeding people. Constantly. Everywhere and to as many people as possible. Volunteering in Soup Kitchens is only the tip of the iceberg. Or should be. My wife makes a wicked chili con carne. I’ve perfected the art of grilling steaks. Any takers?

3.      Sheltering the homeless. Working in a Shelter. Founding a Shelter. Giving a homeless couple temporary housing where you live. OR, a couple nights in a motel in bitter cold weather.

4.      Having and making a guest room always available in your home/apartment.

5.      Performing daily acts of simple kindness.

6.      Being loving in ways that the other person feels loved. Sacrifice!

7.      Supporting causes that promote world peace and local reconciliation.

8.      Funding global hunger relief.

9.      Being mediators in our society and between people we know.

10.   Striving to give our message a context.

       People may not think that these activities and characteristics are sourced from Christian beliefs. That may take a good bit of verbal intercourse. But they will never seek our Lord without some of these demonstrations of Christ’s love for them being present.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©


NEXT— Fear & Disgust

The Whiskey Chronicles 18 – No expectation God will work

       One of the saddest commentaries on Christians in this era is that too many of us have lost any expectation that God still works. His days of making a difference in our world are past.

       We certainly don’t expect Him to drop any of His miracles on us. Not today. We may admit to anomalies in science and medicine on occasion, but it is certainly not the norm to attribute any of these to divine intervention.

       ALL can be explained.

       Since I’ve been in junior high school medical and scientific professionals have been dismissing miracles with the trite We’ll find an explanation someday. For this is one of those things we leave to the work of God. Even when they may not believe in God? [Robert Wright, The Evolution of Religion; “Religious responses to reality are generally explained by game theory and evolutionary psychology.”]

       Christians in the West generally do not believe in miracles. Why is that? Many who are on the more Calvinistic side believe the miraculous gifts ceased with the closing of the writing of the Canon. This position, to this writer, seems to be a quite arbitrary conjecture. The church throughout history has seen the workings of the Spirit of God across both cultures and geographies that have no connection.

       Yes, God works His miracles. Everywhere.

       Why, in our present world, do we believe we need to have a rational or scientific explanation to dismiss any work of God?!? Simply, we do not believe our Lord is still at work in this postModern world. A completely irrational postulation!

       If you’ve traveled our world to any degree, you will hear of and observe God’s work. It is accepted as normative in just about every society…, except in the West. We rule out miracles a priori.

       By example, on a mission in Mexico, an American pastor was asked to pray for healing for a 14 year old boy whose leg was 8” to short and club footed. With great embarrassment our pastor friend placed one hand on the boy’s shoulder and his other hand on his twisted leg. As he began to pray the boy’s leg grew to full length and straightened.

       Our minister friend was dumbfounded. He had just been part of a miracle…, that wasn’t supposed to happen in our day.

       Throughout our lives, personally. my wife and I have been involved in miracles. We’ll never get used to it.

       So when next you find yourself involved in one of God’s miracles that are no longer supposed to exist…, don’t be surprised. God is most definitely still at work in ways we surely do not understand.

       DO NOT try to confine the God of the universe to our limited, puny perspectives.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©


NEXT— NEW SECTION Challenges normal people face