Power to Overcome Ourselves

One of our greatest struggles in life is with ourselves. We let our moods, our disappointments, our life-situations defeat us in the most devastating ways.

     Friends or spouses try to help, but we rebuff their efforts. It is almost as if we want to wallow in our sadness, our forlorn isolation, our despair.

     Seriously, what is wrong with us?!?

     Well, that’s the whole point, isn’t it. We have lost ourselves and our definers of who we are. Worse, we have never thought about who we are. One foot in front of the other. Do the next thing. One foot in front of the other.

     Most of us have been there. Some of us are still there. We can’t seem to get past square ONE. Sadly, there are some of us who don’t want to face ourselves. Too many regrets, too many failures. “I’ll never overcome myself.” So we get stuck in the vicious currents of our own self-fulfilling prophesies. [Or, we give in and let our depression govern who we are and how we act.]

     “I can’t.” becomes our mantra. How about we go for “I can!”

     Inner fears are the hardest to overcome. Fear of failure, of rejection, fear of not being approved. Nobody sees these, but they are there. Sometimes just below the surface, waiting to crack…, or explode.

     Where can we find the power to overcome these demons?

     You do not have the power within you to defeat this. It is outside you. It comes from the source of your being— the God Creator Jesus Christ.

     May I sugest that you need to do is get %#&! mad at yourself. You were NOT designed to be like this. Do not turn to drugs, drink, or sex; but to a friend who will fortify your resolve and help you get you out of that pit.

     Second, create an activity what you really enjoy and get into it. [Unless it’s bank robbing.] For me, that’s writing books, posts, and articles that challenge people in their lives, or getting up high, above 14,000’.

     Third, get outside your misery. Adopt a new sport, learn to make kielbasa. In my depression when I was in graduate school I learned to play guitar. Surprised myself.

     Finally, find a genuine Christian who knows how to love people. You don’t need judgement, condemnation, or more “helpful” advice. YOU NEED A FRIEND. Hopefully, that person will help you untangle the threads of God woven throughout your life. I still struggle with this battle.

     We were created to be Whole Persons, not whining little creatures who let every attack or rejection plunge us into the spiral to the pit.

Why are you in despair, o my soul?

… and why have you become disturbed within me?

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him

For the help of His presence.

     Fight Hell and fight like hell! Just so you know, this is still a battle for me.  

In Christ our Lord,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT—  still thinking about it. 

Being Alone

Monday was St. Valentine’s Day! This is the one day in the year that most men express their love to their wives and sweethearts with roses and chocolate. With all the current anger and division in our world it is a much needed celebration.

     Sadly, it often feels like a last-minute sham too much of the time. Dinner reservations need to be made way in advance for this day, but, other than that, it can be pretty much a last-minute-thought sort of thing. Some women get roses and chocolate that feel like after-thoughts. Sad.

     But the real sadness are the people who have no one who loves them. The homeless, the separated, the widowed, those whose relationships are broken, over, the divorced. For this set of individuals, this day is the saddest of all.

     Worse still, there are those of us who spend our lives alone. Totally alone. Either we’ve been burned so many times that we no longer even want to try or we’ve just never learned how to be loved. Whatever the cause, the result is the same. Self shielding isolation.

     So when someone does express genuine love, genuine affection for us, we rebuff it, ignore it, or assume they want something in exchange. NO ONE could simply love me without wanting something in return?!?

     How dare they?

     This is one of the root causes why people don’t love freely anymore. It is also, in our postChristian mindset, that people cannot believe the Gospel is offered freely to them in love. They don’t trust that. Or us.

     So how do we offer something to people who don’t think they need it, don’t trust it, and don’t know what do do with it?

     The answer lies in the reality that the Christian message must be embedded with in us. Our lives, the way we live, is the Gospel. Why are we the way we are? What makes us seem unusual, different, loving? It is the transformative work of Christ the Lord within us.

     We should be oozing the life and love of Jesus out of our pores. And for that to happen it first needs to be washing us within, cleansing us of our own crud, and setting our spirits free!

     There. Feel better yet? It’s just one of God’s little surprises that takes place once He enters us and makes us new creations. Like I said— different.

     Happy Valentines Day (late).

     Remember. You’re not alone. It just feels that way sometimes.

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Seeking the Power to Overcome Myself

Being a Christian in a postChristian context

If you do not know that we are in a postChristian world, please crawl out from under your rock. Even Pauxatawney Phil crawled out a couple days ago and supposedly saw his shadow, [I, for one, do not believe he could have clawed his way through 3’ of ice hard snow to see anything. Except more snow.]

 First we doubt God exists. Then we question whether Jesus is actually, or fully, God. Then we believe ALL religion is a fabricated fantasy of human. So, what are we left with? We proclaim that we, mankind, are the creator and ruller of all the universe.

 But, seriously, when we remove God, especially a God-Creator, from the equation, what else, beside aliens, is left but…— us?!?

 Very few people have any sense of a need for forgiveness, restoration, new life, or vibrant living. Some, just want to get by. Others, want to stay below the radar. But there are those who strive for success, only to find it somewhat satisfying. They are all, or some, of the finest people in the world. But they are lost within themselves, with no safety hook to give them an anchor.

 How much they need genuine, loving, transparent Christians in their lives is incomprehensible. Jesus said we are the light of the world. If ever there were a time when we who follow our Lord need to come alongside of successful/silent people in this world, it is Now.

 Do we merely need to express our faith in an updated flavor past the 1950s one-size-fits-all? Again, move the Groundhog aside and crawl out of your cave. It’s 2022. NOT 1922, or 1970. How do people hear the Christian message today? And, do you really know what “the Gospel” actually is?!? Tell me. Tell me so a truly clueless postChristian can understand it in their context.

 Better yet, ask a genuine “normal” person what they think Christianity is all about. You will be unpleasantly surprised. FYI, most of us never bother to ask. We just start in with our speil.

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Being alone

Brrr…

  In training Christians to get in touch with our faith I often ask How does your faith feel? Too many of us have lost the emotional aspect of believing: it has become too cerebral, too focused on what is Truth and worried about how we are going to explain it.
   For a long time, I wondered if we had lost the heart of our faith to the mind of our faith. I’m still not sure we haven’t.
   In the early to mid-twentieth century, the liberal/evangelical dichotomy threatened to annihilate the whole gospel of Christ. Then the Pentecostal/Conservative split threatened to divide the emotive faith from the declarative faith. This, in turned, doubted our mystical faith as questionable, at best.
    It seems that any form or expression of faith that isn’t precisely in line with ours is to be held in suspicion. Brrrrr. Have we grown that cold and solidified in our faith as to prescribe the Holy Spirit’s work through history and across geography as to nail Him to the cross as well? Is our faith as temporally and geographically constrained that our God cannot do a new thing?!?
   Read any of C.S. Lewis Science Fiction trilogy? Is salvation for this earth alone?!? Imagine your faith in the grand dance of the miraculous cosmos. Kind of wild, huh!
   So now we arrive at a juncture where tight defining of faith is critical. Too many nuances have replaced traditional Biblical theology with doubt and distrust.
   We have gone too far. Whether liberal or conservative we have lost the heart of our faith to the right or to the left. The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is not a political rallying point. It is the way out of all our divisions and political positionings.
   Jesus Christ ALONE stands as the focal point of history. He is not a tool of any personal or political position. Stop playing with fire.
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]
   So let’s try this— youtube.com/watch?v=H2tOgCDohQk
Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

When life hands you a lemon…, remember what God has made you.

Come on… . You know what you’re supposed to do. Make lemonade.

    What if the impact of the lemon was so great that it knocked you out of kilter? What if you’ve been hit by so many lemons that you’re tired of being hit by them; one after another, in unrelenting sequence. Beginning to bruise? Beginning to hurt? Tired of ducking? Or you never see them coming. You start to turn a little sour over it. Even bitter.

    If you cannot extricate yourself from the situation, what do you do?

    You might have to learn to adapt. To defend. For sure, to duck.

    But there is a point where you really want a bat to slam a few of those lemons back at their source. The reality is that we are targets. Anyone serious about honoring the God of the universe is a BIG target for the lemon arrows of our adversary.

    What?!? You thought this Christian life would eventually settle down to middle-American comfort? Only if you are no longer a threat to Satan and his hoards. Believe me. I Peter 5:8 is still right on target.  “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

    Our faith is in constant battle with spirits who would destroy us. Feeling the love yet?

    The Christian life isn’t all peaches ‘n cream. There are a lot of destructive lemons headed our way. Our adversary, other people, friends, and our present-day culture are all at full throttle to destroy our faith in Christ. If you do not know this, you must be hiding out in a cave somewhere.

    I’ve found that our best defense, other than ducking or slinging a few lemons back, is to remember who you are and what our Lord Christ has done for us. He has placed inside you all the power of God the Father. AND, you are not alone.

    You have brothers and sisters in Christ that make up the great Fellowship to come alongside you in time of need, aloneness, or attack. Do not disregard them.

    So what to do about those lemons? As I said earlier, do duck, lob a few back; and remember What God the Father has made you. You are strong, you are not a wimp. Your sins have been forgiven and you have a sword of the Spirit [Eph. 6:17] to wield when things get testy.

    Remember…, our God is so full of surprises. Lemon Moody Foodies Be the surprises God has designed you to be.

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Brrrrrr

Review, Renew, Recharge

[personal note. I really do not feel like writing this EMPulse. The side effects from Radiation Treatments for my cancer have not been kind. I’m not sleeping. Serious body pain. And constant fatigue. So I write this for you. I feel like something the cat threw up,]

    Let’s face it. It’s going to take more than a cup of coffee or a dinner-for-two at a nice restaurant to recharge our batteries. These past 2 years have wreaked havoc on us. We are not who we were.

    Most of this early 2022 world is trying to find our way through yet another reiteration of the COVID19 virus (flurona); not to mention rising costs in virtually every area of life. Government has shown itself as being somewhat overwhelmed by the enormity of our world’s dilemmas. And we’ve just opened another can of worms with the commemoration of the insurrection of the attacks on our Capital Building. O joy.

    In the midst of all this mess I am going to ask you to get a better handle on 2022. Take out a notepad and write down the tipping points of YOUR life over 2021. Some of these points will be not-so-great: some will be the-best-that-could-be-expected; still others will be GREAT!

    So, how have these events prepared you for what might come upon you for 2022?

    REVIEW can be encouraging or depressing. So let’s move on to RENEW. What parts of your life need RENEWAL? Repair? Elimination? What needs to change? Renewal steps just don’t happen by themselves. Call me if you want some help.

    Finally, NOW CAN YOU REGHARGE YOUR BATTERIES IN 2022? Planning a vacation this summer is too far out to help now. What recharges you in winter? If in Florida, maybe you need to go pound some snowballs somewhere. If your spiritual life seems frozen, try a different way to spend time with God, or at least a way from all the distractions in life.

    Find a way to turn your mind OFF, and your heart ON. Dinner and prayer with a friend. Single malt scotch, a good cup pf tea, something. Something that takes you out of the warp & woof of life. A weekend in a secluded mountain cabin, or an empty beach. Something.

    Between New Years and the Super Bowl there isn’t much to live for in western culture. Except freezing your butt off and looking for cheaper flights to the Caribbean.

    David once bemoaned his state of forlornness in Psalm 42.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?

And why are you in turmoil within me?

     Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

My salvation and my God.

     Without Christ in our lives I wonder how any of us would make it. Even with Christ it’s hard sometimes. But I would still admonish you to rise up and fight! REVIEW, RENEW, and RECHARGE your life, your faith, with a little determined effort on your part. Don’t expect God to do it all for you.

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— When Life hands you a lemon…, just forget it.

Advent – The Christ Candle

Over time, many Western traditions added a fifth candle to the Advent Wreath— The Christ Candle. One solitary candle, in white, surrounded by the other four in the center of the wreath. This candle represented the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ on Christmas Day.

  Mary, having just given birth, probably did not feel like  celebrating; and the mid-night visit from the shepherds seemed a bit confusing, and unexpected. Joseph must have been even more bewildered, not to mention exhausted, at these astonishing events.

  Significant variations of the celebration of Jesus’ birth have evolved over geographies and centuries. In this world pandemic era we are challenged with even more issues.

1.       Now, we are discouraged from gathering together in large groups.

2.       Now, we are encouraged to wear face masks… while trying to sing.

3.       Travel is discouraged because of COVID Omicron.

4.       Lodging is always a challenge. … not to mention the price has gone up.

5.       And Jesus is just as hard to find today as He was then.

      Add to these rough considerations the reality that you might contract COVID and not be here in February. Intriguing times.

      Nonetheless, we must light the Christ Candle on Christmas Day. For us, it is a declaration that all the ills of this world cannot diminish, tarnish, or stain the incredible significance of this historical occurrence. The Lord God of the Universe chose to humble Himself and become one of us. I’ve never quite grasped the magnitude of this life changing incident. How could our Father have ever come up with this course of action?!?

      Consider all the world-changing events that have taken place throughout history. What solution would you have designed to solve the estrangement between God and His creation? Creative doesn’t begin to describe this incredible unconventional solution. ‘Tells you something about the nature of God, doesn’t it!?!

      “Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above… .”

      This Christmas Day, try to find some time where you can sit and ponder this marvelous revelation— the sacrifice of God to draw us back to Himself. The entrance of the Son of God into this earthly realm. Jesus.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

As Jesus Christ was sent into this world to redeem us, so now He sends us into this world,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— New Year’s Resolutions— What were they last year? Hummmm?

Advent – The Angels’ Candle

Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

  As we draw closer to Christmas day, the PEACE Candle, or the ANGEL’S Candle, reminds us that we are not, to say the least, in a peaceful world. Impending war with China, over Taiwan, or Russia, over the Ukraine, or Iran, over whatever, we are not a peaceful world.

  With a rising debt-ceiling, there can be few of us who are comfortable with our nation’s, or our family’s financial futures. Our grandchildren will still be contending with the consequences of our actions today for years to come.

  If you are a student of history, you understand these present conditions are ripe for the onslaught of war; or at least, undeclared conflict. O joy.

  So where does anybody find peace in this world we live in? Trust in governments certainly doesn’t seem to be a viable option. Nor does trust in money. It’s nice to have, making you and yours a little more secure. But how long will that last?

      Now Friends! There’s somewhere we can turn…,  if we’ve taken the time to form and forge the kind of depths in our relationships needed for such times as these. Friendships go a long way in bringing us peace.

      Still, the only source of peace I know that last literally forever, is bonding ourselves with the God who made us. It doesn’t get much more peaceful than that. Now, does this assure us of world peace? No. Racial peace? No. Governments which actually work together? Absolutely not. The end of hatred and prejudice? Definitely not.

      The angels’ announcement of peace to the shepherds the night God entered our tiny planet was a declaration that, if you align yourself with God, with Jesus, you can know the most unusual peace that cuts across the insanity and chaos of all that is going on around us. When I find myself in a tense or dangerous situation, I find the peace of Christ running calmly through the undercurrents of my soul.

      Chaos is still chaos. Frantic disruptions will come. But glued to the grace of Christ, this will have little effect on our present disposition.

      In my own life, I’ve known excruciating physical pain. I’ve known despair to the depths of my soul. Starr and I have known unknowable personable loss, and even ostracism within the Body of Christ. But peace reigns.

      So light up this 4th candle in Advent! Let it shine and remind you what our Lord Jesus has given to all of us. PEACE. Not a peace this world could ever understand, but one that passes all understanding. [Philippians 4:7-9] As you trust your life, your future, to Jesus Christ, more and more, this peace will come upon you and surprise you, at the most unexpected times. Get used to different.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Loving God, loving people…, & bringing the two together

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— The fifth Sunday of Advent— the Christ Candle.

Advent – Candle of Faith

The Second Candle in Advent represents FAITH. So few people have faith in anything these days. Faith in government is shot, faith in marriage vows has all but vanished, faith in a God who has our best interests at heart has failed all over the globe. We have truly descended to become a faithless generation.

Well, except for faith in money. We truly believe that money, lots of it, more of it, will save us. At one of the URBANA Mission Conferences I recall Rev. John R.W. Stott, then chaplain to the Queen, recounted a story of officiating at the funeral of a wealthy English Lord. A friend of his, a Dowager, leaned into him to ask, Vicar, how much did he leave? Rev. Dr. Stott wisely responded My Ladyship, he left it all!

Faith in money is foolish.

  In my cancer treatments, I am putting a lot of faith in my doctors. [I think I have four at present.] I am out of my element when it comes to radiation therapy. I have little choice but to put my faith in their training and treatment plan.

  It is much like that with Christian faith. There is little we can do to save ourselves. That was left to the Son of God as He poured out His life on a Roman cross. People often ask me if I am assured of my salvation. My response is that I do not have to be…, that rests in my Father’s hands. For the most part I enjoy being a Christian and living by the principles and precepts Jesus has laid out for us in Scripture. But then there are times when living the Christian life becomes quite difficult, especially inside the Christian community. Other believers can be so unforgiving and judgmental at times.

  So faith, our faith, needs the context of personal trial and error, where it has been tried and tested and proven under fire. Personally, I wish it were not so, but it is.  “   for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” [James 1:3 ESV] And I’ve never been good at tests.

  Danish Theologian Søren Kierkegaard [1813-1855] proposed that faith is like throwing yourself back into the darkness and finding that there is a God there to catch you. Well, I’m not so sure that is a great definition of faith. We have too much verifiable evidence from historical accounts and subjective validation that our faith has been proven over and over again.

  Can faith be explained away by skeptical and “rational” argument? Well, yes. But not without prejudice. Can the miracles of our faith be challenged? Of course. But they are not so easily dismissed. Too many eye-witnesses.

  Can the internal validation of faith be brought into question? Absolutely! But you would be hard pressed to argue with millions and millions of Christ-followers spanning 2,000 years of history that they were WRONG.

  So when you question your faith, or have doubts, remember the myriads of believers who went before you. They were beaten, tortured, burned alive, banished from their homes, their communities, judged and exiled from their homes and countries, and, more so in our era, ignored. Yet I have often found in my life that people are hungry for what Starr and I have— an abiding peace in times of uncertainty, a stability they cannot attribute to financial security, and a life-joy that drives them crazy.
  So get an Advent wreath and light ‘er up! Consider where your faith lies.


  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Loving God, loving people…, & bringing the two together

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— the Shephard’s Candle— JOY

Advent – Candle of Hope

 Advent Candles & wreaths are meant to draw our thoughts to the coming of the Christ child. Traditionally, they are four candles, representing Hope, Faith, Joy, and Peace. Sometimes a fifth candle is added, the Christ Candle, placed in the center, to commemorate the coming of our Lord Jesus.

      In these COVID19, racially tense, Capital Riots, school shooting and economic inflationary times, not to mention our political oppositionalism, these five candles can draw us apart from the immediate concerns of this world and give us some Godly perspective on everything going on.

      The first candle, the Hope candle is also known as the Prophets candle. Those who prophesied the Coming Christ who would draw all men to His salvation and new life. In these present days there doesn’t seem to be that much hope floating around. Too many people I see are in some level of depression, deep within their own agony with little hope of ever recovering. Others despair over the plagues covering our globe or attacking their own

families. And still others struggle with borderline poverty, broken relationships, sickness, and family deaths. Could it get any worse?!?

      Well, yes…, especially for those who follow Christ. Genuine Christians have always been marginalized and singled out for social and governmental discrimination. Why? Our principles for living go against the powers that be in almost all societies. We can accommodate, blend, acquiesce, concede our place in history to deconstructionism, or live under ideological intimidation; but we can never back off from our commitment and resolution to love and honor Jesus Christ.

      To do so would disavow our faith, bring shame on His works, and deny that we have any hope in these convoluted days.

      So, how do we have hope in these troubling days? Psalm 42 comes to mind first…—

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvationand my God.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore, I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me,    a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock:
 “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
 [ESV]

        Hope is as close as our bended knees.

      MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Loving God, loving people…, & bringing the two together

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Faith in Uncertain Times