Zaphenath-paneah

gary, davis, pharaoh, clueless, Christianity, egypt, Joseph, israelWhat’s in a name? For most of us it is our key identifier. It is who we are known by: it is our moniker, our recognized personage. But what if that were to change? What if we were given another name, one that is more appropriate in another culture, totally different from our own? What then? Who would we become? How would our new name make us different? Would others see us differently?

Joseph, son of Jacob, had such a name change. His older brothers hated him because of the love his father had for him. So they sold him to a passing caravan and told their fathers he was dead. But God had other plans for Joseph.

Through positions of power, years of imprisonment, and reinstatement to the 2nd highest standing in Egypt. He came to this rank at just 30 years of age. To honor his new station in leadership Pharaoh gave him a new name— Zaphenath-Paneah, the God Who Speaks and He Lives. He ruled over Egypt under Pharaoh for 7 years of plenty and prepared for 7 the years of famine to follow.

It was in this time that his brothers came to him to buy food for their families in Canaan…, the same brothers that had years before sold him into slavery. But his countenance and elevated Egyptian attire were so unalike the brother they had known that they did not recognize him. [Look it up— Genesis 38-46]

Question— what would it take to change your countenance? A change in position? An incredible promotion? A totally different name? Adding Dr. or Sir as prefixes to your name? Or would you remain the same ol’ Joe?

Hopefully, our life experiences and positional changes, whether positive or negative, have an effect on us. We all live in context with those around us. Their perceptions of us do matter. They should affect us. Do you know the way other people see you? What they think of you? Actually, do their opinions of you matter to you? They should. If they do not, you have a problem.

Take a test. Find a friend who knows you and ask them how you come across; not just to them, but to the people they know who do not have quite such a favorable opinion of you. You buy the coffee.

Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,

Gary

___________

Weeds in my Soul

weed, faith, weedkiller,

I have a confession to make. I hate grass! Ok, then you also know how much I hate weeds. The problem is…, if we killed all the weeds in our lawn there would be no green left. I swear the whole lawn is a field of weeds!Conundrum.

Weeds seem to sprout up no matter what I do. Weed Killer, Clover Obliterator, or Brush Fire Kits— nothing works. The same is true as I seek to live an honorable life before God & man. Weeds. Everything is basically green, but when you look closely— weeds.

One of the books I am presently reading talked about the weeds that grow up in our souls. We don’t always notice them because they are green like everything else. Sort of. They seem to creep amongst the lush grass that I have been cultivating and grooming most of my adult life. It’s like some of the Spiritual Turf Builder spread evenly over the green grass of my soul is snatched away by the weeds, just like on my lawn.

I’ve learned to live with the weeds in my lawn; not so sure I am all that comfortable with the weeds in my soul. Nestled within the deep crevices of my soul they can do serious damage. Not that I live with a pseudo-spirituality or surface-Christian faith. I do not. I live as upright a life as I can. But there are weeds.

For most Christians, green is green, weeds, grass, what’s the difference?!? But for professional Lawn-Keepers for-the-Lord, they can spot a weed from a mile away. Sometimes, that’s all they see. That’s all they focus on. Thankfully, the Father looks at us through the eyes of Christ. Our sins are forgiven and our weeds are taken away. Now that’s Turf-Builder!

So stop wallowing in your guilt and shame. Get on with grooming your soul to produce that pleasant aroma of freshly mown grass, announcing that your spiritual lawn is now trimmed and your weeds are gone.

Remember that about other people while you’re at it.

Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,

Gary

Still sleeping…but half awake

cat, asleep, awake, gary davis, christianity, thinkingMany genuine Christians in this postChristian era still do not comprehend the extent to which the influence of the Christian message has lost its hearing in Western Culture. The mighty dollar is the new God of choice. Power is the new religion; whatever it takes to stay alive or succeed is the practice of faith.

Christianity has lost sway over people’s lives, government decisions, and general morality. What genuine Christianity is flourishing here is doing so outside the mainstream cultural inclinations. But we are not at odds with our culture; we have been subsumed within its values so fully that we are barely noticeable; unless, of course, one of us tries some lame-brained stunt to get noticed in the name of Jesus. Thus do we verify our culture’s judgment that we are irrelevant to anything that matters.

We are still sleeping when it comes to understanding what normal people genuinely think of us; if they think of us at all. To be fair, though, some of us are waking up to the reality that we are in the minority; at least in American culture (referring to the US). Most Christians in the USA still need to come to grips with the realities of the cultural changes and blurring-of-the-lines that has taken place. Do you want to know what people think of us?!? Ask them. Take time to build rich relationships with people around you who never, EVER go to church. Do you want the truth, or do you want to stay asleep…, in a permanent daze?

Let’s wake up and get involved in the lives of those who sit just on the fringes of our lives, who need Jesus.

Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,

  Gary

Vice Versa

image001
Fractal Machine

A good friend of mine once said, “Life is painful. If you haven’t realized that yet you haven’t lived long enough.”

Life changes. So also do our perceptions of who we are and what we are yet to accomplish.

For example, when I was in my 20s I had a clear sense of calling—

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19, (NIV)

With great energy and enthusiasm I plunged into the depths of our world’s myriad throngs, making one mistake after another. I was so intent on proclaiming that I have spent a lifetime relearning how to communicate our faith so those who need our Lord can understand it. The message is the same, but its transference is now attuned to the culture, experiences, and nuances of those who hear it.

Today, Our Lord Christ reminds me that He is the One who fulfills our faith. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders (us) and the sin that so easily entangles (us). And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2, (NIV)

Christ Jesus will be the One who will draw all the peoples of the world to Himself. He will fulfill the Great Commission given to us. Nonetheless, we are the ones who are called to not loose heart, to stay the course, to throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that entangles, and to keep our focus on our Lord. If we tilt our glance to one side or the other we may believe that we are no longer in the race. I assure you, we are.

Of a truth, I must admit to some discouragement and weariness along the way. Sometimes I’ve just wanted to throw in the towel and say, enough! All I hear back from God is, “Really! That’s interesting.”

Get the point? You are not the one who gets to decide when your calling, your race, is over. Do not mess with the God Who made you. It’s way too dangerous.

Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,

Gary

Falling Behind Before Fall

6086519585_59a875090b_bSit down. Breathe. Now breathe again. Two weeks from now is LABOR DAY WEEKEND. What?!? You forgot to get in your summer vacation? Oh, you’re on it now. So you’ll be all rested for the back to school bunch. Getting ready to head off to college with your brand new $1600 laptop, buying new clothes and school supplies for your kindergartner [They total over $125 this year], and wondering if your air conditioners should be put away just yet, or in November…, maybe never.

Conclusion: you’re already falling behind.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that There is more to life than increasing its speed. But every Fall in Western civilization that is all we seem to do; increase our pace of life to the breaking point. I’ve wondered why someone hasn’t yet engraved their tombstone with I didn’t finish everything.

Given the present pace of culture I’m not sure it is possible for us to finish everything. We have to pick and choose. What is critical? Next, what is important? Then, what is broken that absolutely demands our attention? NOW! Move to Critical list.

If you are married there is always the question of priority for you family. Are they? Will you interrupt your work load to spend time with your wife, your husband, your kids who desperately want your love and time?

In other words, if you don’t want to fall behind as we enter this Fall, STOP ADDING SO MUCH TO YOUR SCHEDULE. Wait…, is it jammed full already? Hummm. Let me think. CUT THINGS. Unless, of course, you’ve made yourself indispensable to every commitment in your life. Let other people fill in for you. How else will they be able to make the same mistakes you did, and learn from them?!?

You need to make a difference on this planet in the time God has given you to be here. You will be less effective if you are constantly worn down and cranky. So…, STOP now. Reassess, before you are so over-committed you don’t even have the time to do that.

For what it’s worth,
  Gary

Getting Lost – Intentional loss of control

control, lost, letting go, clueless, Christian, gary, davis

GETTING LOST: intentional loss of control

All of us face times when we feel like we are out-of-control: some of those times we actually are out-of-control. When launching a new venture it may become obvious quickly that we are not in control; at other times, we will simply lose control. This isn’t always a bad thing.

In our postmodern marketplace the smartest thing an entrepreneur or inventor can do is to let go of control at times, to watch others wrestle with the problems for themselves. Intentionally stepping out-of-control not only creates distance from projects, it often carries perspective as well. Stepping aside provides space to think, to get away from things for a while. It creates space for other people to step in and try their hand at generating solutions. They will rise to shine or they will learn from failure. This is a win-win situation all around. Corporate and personal growth comes through struggle and adversity. Stepping out of the way so others can take control gives them the opportunity to show their stuff. It will turn them into more capable employees who have greater trust and respect for your leadership.

If they do fail, they will only do so once; ok, maybe twice, or three times. But eventually they will learn from their short-comings and rise to the challenge. The next time they attempt to tackle a problem they will probably come up with a better resolution than you could. Good job team!

So step out-of-control every now and then…, intentionally. It will be good for your soul and produce pride for those who must solve the problem in your absence.

Incidentally, stepping out-of-control in your Christian life might just give God the room He needs to move you where you need to be.

[n.b. There will be no EMPulse during the month of August as we will be out of the office. Unless…, one of you would step forward to write some?  I’m stepping out-of-control.]

Honor God; honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Black and Blue…. and White

Black, white, violence, community, love, futureDallas PD, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Charleston, SC, Newtown CT, Orlando, San Bernadino, Oregon Community College, Boston Marathon, Kalamazoo, Washington Naval Yard, Virginia Tech.

These are the some of the communities who have found their place in American history through the tragic taking of innocent lives. These were men whose spirits were fueled with anger and resentment toward the police, the military, white people, black people, and innocent children. Their crimes were crimes of racism and resentment, of control and feeling out of control, of having no voice in the greater arena of our great American culture. Maybe we’re not so great after all.

These murders and assassinations are representative of deeper divides between black & white, between police brutality and criminal license. On a deeper lever, they belie a sickness and fear within the souls of men to dominate, to be right, and to win. This is not a healthy platform on which to build a civil society. It is a platform that lays the foundations for civil war, permanent racial tension, and mutual destruction.

Is this the country we want to leave to our children?!? Of course not! But unless we act, all of us, and act now, our children will be facing the same issues 50 years from now.

Allow me to offer a course of action4now.

  1. The violence must STOP, on all sides of our conflicts. I grew up in a racially torn Baltimore, MD. I made a friend who was black in the midst of a gang war. We had to feign a personal feud to cover up our friendship. That should not have been; but it was. What if we ALL learned friendship again? Friends…, with those who are different from us? It can be done.
  2. It is easily observable that America is not “one nation under God. We are a matrix of peoples—Muslims, Christians, atheists, agnostics, Jews, scientists, philosophers and some people who are too busy earning a living to even think about their “position” on things. We are a patch-work quilt at best. It is well past the time we should know about our differences and come to allow for, if not respect, other people’s viewpoints, other people’s plights. One size does not fit all.
  3. A system, not of Social Security, but of Social Assistance should be set up. Not one where $$$ is blindly doled out, but one where people come to work together, side by side, for the common good. [See- Habitat for Humanity.] Who knows, maybe even those “row-houses” of my youth can be made to shine again.
  4. As a nation, we need to return to God. [Again, atheists & agnostics honorably excused.] But for the rest of us, it is time we took the dictates of our faith, no matter the faith, more to heart. Let’s not merely be Christians, but genuine Christians, giving to the poor; let’s not be simply Jews, but the Jews of the Book, honoring our history and caring for our fellow human beings; and let’s be worthy Muslims, obeying and honoring the teaching of Allah, and of Muhammad ﷺ, His Prophet, not killing, which is a sin, but cherishing life, bringing about great changes for all mankind.

These suggestions may go unnoticed, be seen as invalid, or simply ignored. Nonetheless, my belief is that they are not as naïve and uncritically fanciful as they might appear. One of my mentors was the business consultant Peter Drucker. One of his more famous sayings was— The best way to predict the future is to create it. It’s time we all got down to some serious, creative work.

And did I mention the difficulty and necessity of forgiveness? Do I have to?

Honor God; honor people…, make a difference,

Gary