The Whiskey Chronicles 9 – Challenges Christians Face

       In 2006 John Stott wrote a book titled ISSUES FACING CHRISTIANS TODAY. Although many of those issues persist to this day, it should serve as a reminder to face the rising issues in our own day, 2022. Some seem ever to be with us— plagues, racial violence, wars, growing poverty, government inequities, and the like. But there are issues we personally face on a daily basis— grief, poverty, family breakdowns, insecurities, personal failures, loss of faith in anything, death, and all of its ramifications.

       As an introduction to this section we need, we must, decide what our stance will be as genuine followers of Christ. Some questions… .

1.      Will we engage our society, and those we know, in these confrontational conditions?

2.      Will we, instead, form cloisters of community that withdraw from our world?

3.      How will we give an answer of our faith to the increasingly clueless people we know in a way that they can understand?

4.      How will we serve and love those who think we are clueless or crazy or just plain irrelevant?

5.      How can we contribute to our culture(s) in gracious, creative ways?

6.      What do we do when we are ignored?

7.      How can we prepare to face persecution… and death?

8.      How can we learn to love people who hate us?

9.      What if they go after our children?

10.   How can we overcome fear?

       There are, I know, many more issues we must grapple with; but you get the point. We have been facing a more belligerent society for at least 75 years in America. It will get worse for us. When? How? Who knows?

       I don’t want to sound like a Doom-Sayer, but we are heading for an era where the Christians will not know the freedoms and acceptance we do presently. Don’t believe me? Look at history. Or look at our own Scriptures—

For a time is coming

When people will not endure

Sound teaching.

They will follow their own desires

And look for teachers

Who will tell them whatever

Their itching ears

Want to hear.

       ~ 2 Timothy 4:3.

or,

… and you will be hated by all

For my Names’ sake.

But the one who endures the end

Will be saved.

Matthew 10:22.

       Most of us are not ignorant of what is to come. Few of us are preparing for it.

       I remember back in the 1950s and ‘60s Americans were building bomb shelters for our families. There was little concern for the family next door. It was all about PROTECT OUR OWN! Even fine Christian people were stock-piling food…, for ourselves. This felt so anti-Christian to me I could barely believe what was going on. Gun sales were UP then as well.

       But this is today. What challenges will we, as genuine followers of Christ, encounter?

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

Gary

NEXT— NO POINT OF CONTACT

Road Map Here  

The Whiskey Chronicles 6 – the Distance Between Us

    It is hard to imagine that over 2,000 years Christians have perfected the art of avoiding other people, normal people, “non-Christians,” like the plague. During the early phases of our faith we were actually at war with other people; Christians killing Jews, Jews killing Christians, Christians killing Romans. Romans definitely killing Christians. What a great beginning.

       Then came the Muslims and our Crusades to reclaim the Holy Land. Again, not the best witness in our history.

       Then followed the 15th century Inquisition, and 17th and 18th century denominational wars; Christians killing each other. No comment.

       Today, in 2022, the evangelical fear of other people is excessive. We don’t even know how to talk to normal people except for trying to convert them This is NOT how Jesus taught us to relate.

       When we do talk about our faith it is with words that are foreign to both their vocabulary and their thinking. Words have referents. The words we presently use to communicate our faith are out of sync with the increasing biblical illiteracy of this generation; not just those under 30, but even with those over 50.

       “Houston, we have a problem.” Serious problems.

       The distance between us is not that great. But we further separate from one another other by “cocooning” (Faith Popcorn) within our own circles of safety, our communities of faith, and constructing strawmen of what each other are like. This is nuts.

       Find common ground with other people, whether it be at our kids baseball games, our graduate schools, our work, or neighborhood gatherings. Isolation is no longer an option.

       Sadly, I have too often found that I enjoy being with my normal friends and neighbors more than I enjoy being with my fellow Christ followers. It should not be this way.

       In John 17:15 our Lord asks the Father, My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  We walk through evil days, as throughout all history. Yet we are still called to walk among wonderful, angry, broken, lost, vicious people as images of Christ.

       Why? Jesus did.
 
Loving God; loving people…, and bringing the two together!

Gary

NEXT— The Christian Gospel Re-Imagined: Resident Aliens

The Whiskey Chronicles – Common Grace

One of the most incredible surprises of God is his gift of common grace. Basically, common grace is a blanket of protection that—

·       Keeps God from destroying us all for our constant rebellion and stupidity before Him.

·       Extends to us His blessing so we don’t kill each other but instead live in as much peace and cooperation as possible.

·       It is also a vessel holding Truth and favor for all peoples.

       Normal people have no sense that this is holding them together, and back from being their worst. People simply move along with their lives with little concern for the turmoil and conflicts all around us. The recent COVID19 pandemic put a crinkle in our style, but hardly a dent in the overall functioning of our society or the world.

       In the same ways that our world recovered from two major wars in the last century, we will, we must, recover and press forward to a healthier and more peaceful common good. If we do not… !

       Our world’s peoples rarely consider God’s restraint in all this. He is simply not a factor to consider. The Christian belief that He has His hand on/in everything is a non sequitur. He is simply not there.

       But what if they are wrong? Small miracles throw us off. Bigger miracles are harder to explain. We fight attributing them to any Supreme Being.

       Divine Intervention is definitively discarded.

       I must object Not so fast. Because we cannot empirically verify an event or act does not mean there was not a cause beyond our abilities to KNOW. Oh, we’ll find a scientific explanation for this later. Maybe.  

       Albert Einstein, quoting Bruce Cameron, observed Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Things that cannot be counted does not mean they are not there and have an influence on our everyday life.

       This is God’s Grace underpinning and infiltrating of everything we know; or…, don’t know. Just because we cannot see it or sense it does not mean we can discount it and it’s effect upon us. Grace permeates every aspect of our lives. Sometimes we become aware of it.

       So when those little miracles or Big Miracles enter our realms of existence, maybe we should not be so swift to write them off.

       On a personal note, I have been the recipient of many expressions of grace. As I often say God is full of surprises…, don’t trust Him. For is you trust Him, He will surprise you even more. In His grace.

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

Gary

NEXT— The Distance Between Us  

The Whiskey Chronicles-No Point of Contact

Road Map Here  

   When sitting under the teaching of Dr. Cornelius VanTil I learned that there was no point of contact between the Christian mind and the secular mind. Philosophically this is most probably true. But on a more practical, human experience level, this couldn’t be further from the Truth.

       We are all created in the Image of God. We reflect His character and His appearance. Not exactly sure how that works with the diversity of peoples and races and faces. But we “look like” our Creator: all of us.

       Then, there is something called common grace that extends to all of His creation. It’s what keeps God from destroying us in an angstrom of a second. Our rejection of his mark upon us has dire consequences. We do not do well when we deny or reject it.

       We put our lives at risk when we go beyond his perimeters of protection for our us.

       We may have no point-of-contact with the secular mind but most certainly do have common experiences with the men and women around us.

       Have children? Then you cannot believe that humanity was created basically good. Cute, maybe; but good?!? Not a chance.

       Have teenagers? End of argument. Married? ‘Nough said.

       We have innumerable things in common with common man. So how can anyone say we have no point-of-contact with normal people?!?  [Sorry Dr. VanTil.]

       Spiritually, in beliefs, in our life’s goals…, absolutely; there is no point-of-contact. But when we move outside of Life’s Ultimate Questions, we have so much in common. So much.

       As Followers of Christ we have a foundation to deal with all the insanities and intricacies of life. They are just as hard to face for Christians as other people would face. Coming alongside each other in life’s messes forms a bond that lasts a lifetime.

       If there were any place in reality where genuine Christians are needed it is in the anguish, the tragedy, the helplessness of other people’s lives. So let’s not be isolated Christians, insulated from those around us. We need to be genuine points-of-contact between our Lord and the world of diverse peoples around us, and around the world.

       ‘Nough said.

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

Gary

NEXT— Common Grace  

The Whiskey Chronicles- What Normal People think of Christians

Road Map Here

       As we begin our journey thru the twists and turns of today’s complex cultures, we do need some directions about how to proceed. Knowing what normal people think of us is an absolutely crucial starting point.

       This begs the question— So, how can we learn what normal people think of us and our faith?

       If I might be obviously crass, simply ask them. Why have we not thought of this before? We make so many assumptions about them, you might think they do the same about us. Well, not so much. Normal people rarely think about us or our beliefs. And why should they?

       Our perspectives on reality, relationships, and daily life events are different. Don’t misread me here. We love, we laugh, we hurt, we enjoy sports, or reading, or solving the impossible problems of some people. We have many similarities in our lifestyle and interests.

       But when it comes to beliefs, we part company. Most people do not develop a framework through which to filter life. They just live. And enjoy living! There’s nothing like a good cold beer, friends, and a baseball game at the end of the week.

       Christians always seem to have an agenda when we talk with people. Like we need to drive home a point about our faith or get you to sign on the dotted line. What we really need to do is spend more time in prayer for people. Talk is fine, but prayer gets things done.

       Yet when I spend time with people they are perplexed about Christians’ intensity, our drive, our desire to draw them to agree with us. Do we trust God for their lives? It doesn’t seem so.

       What they need to see more than anything else is our love, our caring, our sacrifices, and our willingness to accept them for who they are right now, at this moment. When Jesus walked our roads He was known as a safe person to be around— mostly. We need to become safe people for those around us.

       In many ways, safety is one of the basic foundations of our message. We want to make it safe for people to be around God. (more on this later). During the Middle Ages Christians would build structures (monasteries, convents) where people could come for protection, food, prayer and shelter.

       Is our time any different? The context for our message in our time is a safe place, a safe person, and a safe activity. People understand less about our faith now than at any other time in history. We truly need to show them our Lord in everything we do.

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

Gary

NEXT— No Point of Contact

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

Norman Rockwell Mosaic  "The Golden Rule"
United Nations Photo
https://www.flickr.com/photos/un_photo/with/3311543811/

       We now come to the the final ingredient of why Christians exist in this mostly hostile modern postModern environment— bringing God and people together. Throughout history people have sought to find God and discover who we should be to Him.

       UNTIL these postmodern times.

       People, do not seek to find Him. They are not even sure He exists. Our search for meaningful relationships has shifted primarily to human relationships; especially sexual relationships.

       SEX seems to have replaced God as the primary foundation of all human interaction. Unbelievable!

              Of course, in mature relationships it takes its proper place alongside other concerns and values— mutual caring, sacrifice, functional practical realistic partnering. These aspects of relationship, and more, must retain a balance that always puts the OTHER first.

       It’s the same in our coming together with God. As human beings, we are designed to be in constant open relationship with the people around us: we are also designed to be in constant open relationship with the God who created us. If you don’t see this you need to go back to the drawing boards and your Bibles.

       More than that, you must believe that God, our Creator, put us here as part of His redemptive forerunners to bring this human race, these human societies & cultures to an understanding of the God who made them and gave His life for their salvation.

       THIS is the Christian Mission on earth. Nothing else.

       Our calling is to love God, to love people, and to bring the two together. It’s that simple.

       There is no need to memorize a gospel outline. Just walk into people’s lives and love Christ into them. When they are ready, they will ask about the hope that is in you. Or, more likely, “How do you deal with all the chaos and catastrophe around you?”

       They may not comprehend your answer; but you can clarify the work of Christ within you and watch Him work His miracles of redemption right before your eyes. God IS full of surprises.

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

Gary

Web: www.cluelessChristianity.org

Exuberant Faith – Wahoo!

It is true that the renewing of your mind is definitely an important prerequisite for our conversion to faith to be fulfilled. We have books and schools of thought, bible colleges, Reformed seminaries, more books and seminars that all help us to renew our mind.

But there is little out there to guide us in encouraging our spirit.

Contemporary Worship Services come close; but they’re not completely fulfilling in our daily lives.

We need more input to light up our spirits. Historical Christianity has always had misgivings about the role of emotion in our faith. “It cannot be trusted.” It is only our belief systems that provide a solid platform for us to rely upon. And measure.

So…, when did systematic theology supplant a passionate faith? The Apostle Peter wasn’t the most logical. Nor were the sons of Zebedee., nor the missionaries of the early church. There was just something different about them that attracted people to them…, & Jesus.

Could it be that they were excited over their salvation?!? Over being set free from the effects of sin on their lives? Could it be that they were filled with the Holy Spirit of God bubbling forth throughout their lives?

Solemnity has established a strong anchor within our faith. Yet there must also be a place for joy, for excitement, for overabounding faith.

When was the last time you were blown away at the work of Christ on the cross? That you were set free through His sacrifice? Forever!

Too many of us have equated decorum with worship. Why? I’m sure those first disciples were in no way excited about personal dignity. They had walked with Jesus Himself. They knew, firsthand, what the Savior of the world was truly like. He was energized about life and the LIFE He was bringing.

What’s not to get excited about.

Honor God, honor people, Make a difference,   WAHOO!

Gary

Wrecking Your Relationship with Jesus

    “I came in like a wrecking ball… .” So said the chorus of Miley Cyrus’ song Wrecking Ball. And she was on to something. So many of us wreck our lives with all kinds of desires, actions, secrets, and false-fronts.

     Why? We can’t be that stupid. Yeah…, we can.

     In the end it will all come back on top of us and destroy our family relationships, professional accomplishments, and friendships. All because we hide something or fake truth to appear more something to others.

     Forgive me, but I’m going to list some things we do to wreck our relationships; especially with Jesus. We lie. We pretend. We fake trust. We play games. We downplay sin. We cheat on Truth. We fake relationships. We say we are “fine” with God when it is obvious we are not.

     There…, have I missed any?!? If you’ve found any other ways we can wreck our relationship with God, please, let me know what they are.

     The question now is, do you want to get back into a healthy relationship with the God who made you? If you do, here are some ideas—  Start with admitting that you are a screw-up. You have failed God (and probably some other people), You knew His principles that would protect you in life…, and you ignored them. Stupid, really. And life threatening.

     Then, talk with someone who you know loves you…, really loves you. They already know you’re a screw-up; they know you’re a mess. They might even be surprised when you come to them in humility, seeking help to get yourself out of this mess. But it’s a smart move to go to one who loves you for gentle correction and guidance. Do it!

     There are probably some  practices in your life you will have to stop. Extramarital Sex, for one. Abuse of alcohol is another. They are the obvious ones. There also things you will have to START doing. Seeking forgiveness from people you love, that you’ve hurt deeply. There are also those on the borders of your life with whom you also need to do some rebuilding.

     But the most important Person you need to get to know again is Jesus. How does He see you? Now. How can you prove to Him you are serious this time? Would you be willing to shut up long enough so you can hear Him read you…, to you?

     These are not simple, easy things to bring up.

     But if you want to dig out from the wreckage your life has become it’s not going to be any simple four step process.

     Get ready to dig in.

In Christ our Lord,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Letting God mold you

www.CluelessChristianity.org  

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

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