Challenging Challenges: Regrets

regrets

  Let’s see… . What are some of the things we do, or don’t do, that we later regret?

·         Irrational fears; being afraid of something, of someone.
·         Being insecure about something.
·         Losing my cool.
·         Not going for it. The RISK Quotient.
·         Putting myself first.
·         Not offering forgiveness…, first.
·         Or…, never seeking forgiveness.
·         Never admitting wrong.
·         Living behind a façade.
·         Standing forth for what is RIGHT.
·         Sacrificing.
·         Withholding love.
·         … & many, many more.

     What are some of the regrets that you carry with you? Some cannot be resolved, but some can be resolved. What are some creative ways you might bring about a resolution of some of your regrets?

1.       If in the last 2-3 years, go to the person or group and seek forgiveness in person.

2.       On the other hand, if you were the one offended, just let it go.

3.       If you regret what you did, seek forgiveness within reason.

4.       Some regrets from your past will just have to take their place in your history. There will probably be no resolution. Again, just let it go.

     Too many of us drag painful memories along with us in case we need to call on them as weapon in some future argument. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for new life and new growth to take place in your life. It drags you into an abyss of anger and resentment.

     Neither are options for genuine followers of Christ. Seeking forgiveness is. So is offering it. The time for forgiveness for past-wrongs is well overdue. If we are the recipients of God’s FORGIVENESS & mercy shouldn’t we extend that to those who done us wrong?

     Remember this conversation between Peter and Jesus? [Matt. 18:21-22]

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked,
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive
my brother or sister who sins against me?
 Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, 
I tell you, not seven times,
 but seventy-seven times.

     We all carry regrets with us; things we have done, things we could have done, things done to us. For all and any, Jesus’ directs us to forgive. AND forget.

Honor God, honor people, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— ANGER

Challenging Challenges: Genuine Commitment

We attended a wedding once where we were invited friends of the parents of the groom. After the ceremony I asked the grooms father, “Do you think they’ll make it?” to which he replied, “Well, you know, these days the words don’t mean very much.”

     To say I was a bit taken back would be an understatement. His response came just moments after the ceremony. He did not think their marriage would last; turns out he was right. Within 2 years the couple had separated.

     In these early days of the twenty first century our adherence to the commitments we make are surely glancing at marginal. Businesses are ruled by the bottom line. Treaties are honoured, sort of. Government commitments are, well, tenuous. Everyone seems to be asking the same question— What’s in it for me?

     That doesn’t sit too well with me. My wife and I are coming up on our 50th Anniversary of marriage. Neither of us have ever asked that question. It’s always been What can I do for you? How can I help you fulfill your dreams? How can I encourage you in your walk of faith?

     There is a poem in the book of Psalms that starts with the dual questions— 

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?

Who shall dwell on your Holy Hill?

[Psalm 15]

The poem goes on to answer it with a slew of brilliant admonitions. There is one answer I would like to draw attention to (verse 4)—

…who swears to his own hurt and does not change.

     Basically, you stick with the commitments you’ve made through good times and bad. Too many in our society simply drop their commitments when the going gets tough. Such wimpy fortitude will destroy marriages, break partnerships, and lead to wars. People will get hurt. People will be killed. Children will be shattered and scattered. That is the way of people who do not keep their commitments.

     What’s in it for me? is the major barrier to genuine commitments. Shouldn’t we rather be asking What can I do for you?

     KEEP YOUR COMMITMENTS!

Honor God, honor people, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— REGRETS

Challenging Challenges- Getting in the way of Yourself

    

    Far too often we get in the way of ourselves. Whether it be a big boisterous personality, a shy reticent more introverted one, or simply a bitter demeanor, our true passion in life is overshadowed by a persona other than who we truly are.

     Ask me how I know.

     The challenge for us is to become who we genuinely are both inside and outside. Not that we wear our hearts on our sleeves, but that there is generally a match between what people see is what they get.

     Let me explain. For most of my youth I huddled alone in our basement building models of the military industrial complex of WWII. I preferred being alone. Then, during the 2nd half of my sophomore year of college, shortly following my conversion to Christianity, my personality totally flipped. I became a total flamboyant extrovert. It was weird. Most of my friends thought I had gone completely berserk.

     What I needed to learn was to allow God to sculpt me, in each phase of my life, into whatever shape and personality He needed me to be. And my clay was not that pliable.

     Now, years later, I seem to be retiring into introversion. Hummm.

     I used to teach a course titled How Your Personality Filters your Faith. Simply put, God fashions our personalities to fit His purposes for every season of our lives. Our job is to make sure we don’t get in the way of ourselves OR who our Creator is molding us to be. When Scripture says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, [Psalm 139:14] [this should have included the admittance that we do not like to be fearfully and wonderfully made without our consent.] We are a stubborn creation.

     What are some of the ways we can overcome this natural inclination to fight God’s remaking of us? How can we stop getting in the way of ourselves? Some ideas on how to do that might be—

–  Think before you respond.

–  Listen more than you talk.

–  Ask a friend how you come across. Be sure you are sitting down when they tell you.

–  Ask God about His design for you in this phase of your life.

–  STOP all the frantic running around.

–  Be still…, and know that I am God. [Psalm 46:10] Meaning, stop trying to be god.

     Remember that our Lord can honor you and make use of you in whatever your circumstances. Just the way you are. Mostly. [Although some of us need to clean out a bit of our BS.] Then again, He may choose to remake you completely. Ask me how I know.

      Christ has made all of us for a purpose. Do you know what yours is? What can you learn about it from your situation, your personality, your weaknesses, and your strengths?

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” [2 Corinthians 12:9]

     Just don’t back your own car over yourself when you are supposed to be going forward.

Honor God, honor people, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Genuine Commitment.

Challenging Challenges: an Introduction

    

This past year has been challenging to say the least. The COVID-19 pandemic (2,740,000 deaths to date), racial inequities, police violence, the murders of George Floyd & Breonna Taylor, the insurrectionist occupation of the US Capital building, seemingly random mass killings from massage businesses to supermarkets. We have a mess. The question on the minds of many is—  

Where do we go from here?

      It’s the right question to ask. We live in a fluctuating world of spinning constants and variables. An axion that best describes our era might be constants aren’t, variables won’t. Uncertain times lie ahead. Each of us has a role to play in this grand new drama.

      Thus this new series on Challenging Challenges. This is no time for any of us to cower in the corners to wait to see what happens. We need to get involved, on whatever level we find ourselves, to make a difference.

      For a long time now we at Clueless Christianity have signed off with “Honor God. Honor People. And Make a Difference.” Now, more that ever before, this needs to be our life-song.

      Some of the challenges we will consider are—

·         Loss.

·         Anger.

·         White blindness.

·         Our own mortality.

·         What’s worth dying for?

·         Getting in the way of yourself.

·         Regrets.

·         Redefining Success.

·         Genuine commitment.

·         Fighting God.

·         An inability to trust.

·         Making our relationships count.

      … and probably more.

      Like the ancient Greek myth of Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain, only to have it come rolling down again, some challenges are ever before us.

      Throughout our lives we will face issues and difficulties that we must challenge. Some will phooff away like cotton candy: others, will stand against us like hardening concrete. But they do have to be confronted, conquered, gone around, or subdued for us to create a future. For all of us.

Honor God, honor people, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Getting in the way of yourself.

After There’s Nothing Left: Final Thoughts

The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

                                                Ecclesiastes 1

      These words of the Psalmist might best sum up our discussion on depression over these past seven months. It’s all been said…, and it will be said again. This was just my offering on our human condition and why so many of us seem so constantly defeated in life. It doesn’t have to be that way.

      There is always a way out. God has promised us that [1 Cor. 10:13]. Yet few of us seem to want this way out of our depression. We would rather wallow in its ensnarement and miss out on the joys of Christ in life.

      I will never understand that.

      If you are ever to recover your soul, if you are ever to recover that full sense of living again in the open sunlight instead of stealing back onto the shadows of your soul, you must attack the cause of your depression head-on. Don’t get me wrong. Gathering the strength to do this is no simple matter. You will need a person of safety, a soulmate with whom you can share your life safely. You will need a place of safety where you can escape, rest, and ponder. You will need people gathering around you who love and care about you. You cannot be in this alone. Above all you will need God’s help to get through the process. Again, you are not in this alone.

      Depression is a tool of our adversary to defeat us. Whether it be a chemical imbalance of a lingering response to a terrible experience depression will slowly eat away at your soul until it destroys you. Do not give in to it. FIGHT!

      We are all made to enjoy this world, defeat its enemies, and to rise victorious with our Lord Jesus Christ. Never doubt that this is God’s design for us, for you. Now…, go for it!

         24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time[a] and now and forever. Amen.

~ Jude

Honor God, honor people, make a difference,
Gary
Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— to be announced… maybe.

After There’s Nothing Left: clean heart & clean soul

            Welcome back! Now that we’ve passed through our Intermission it is time to switch gears from delineating what happens to our soul when you neglect it, deny it, or just don’t bother to feed it, to rebuilding it.

             Point of clarification— When referring to “Soul” it should be taken as the whole of the human being— body, SOUL, & spirit. Historically there has been a debate as to whether we are tripartite, or dipartite; having three aspects to who we are vs. two aspects— body & spirit comprising the soul (self). We will not address this debate here. Rather, we will consider the rebuilding of the soul as the restoration of the whole human being to a vibrancy of life before God and before the world: a healthy human being.

      So we will turn our attention, from here on, to the refurbishing, the re-nourishing, the rebuilding of your soul, your whole being, body/soul/spirit.

      One of the first natural results that flows out of a time of Soul Confession is Soul Clarity. This clarity, like the facets of a cut gem, sparkles in the countless colors of the spectrum. For once you have cleared out the garbage in your life, between your soul and God, between yourself and those around you, and within yourself, you start to see things more clearly. You start to feel lighter in life, and in spirit. The world around you shines brighter; the colors of existence seem more vibrant, pulsing with life, dazzlingly brilliant.

      The questions that haunt you are no longer morbid or morose. Rather, they are questions of possibility and hope. “I wonder what’s in store for me around the corner?” “What comes next?” Clarity of life elicits an attitude within that is expectant, hopeful, and courageous. “I can tackle anything!” Cleaning out your life, through confession, forgiveness, and humility produces clarity and perspective on just about everything.

      The first adversity to recovery is admitting that you need to deal with yourself. Attitudes, mindsets, absolute perspectives you hold will all need to be scrutinized. Trust me, it’s no fun, but necessary.

 Totally dependent on You,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— After There’s Nothing Left— digging out of the dirt.

After There’s Nothing Left: an intermission- kindness

  Still in the grips of this pandemic. Coming out of one of the truly malicious federal elections in memory, facing any further facets of depression seems like hardening icing on the top of a stale, sagging cake. With melting candles.

   No! I don’t think so. Let’s shift gears.

   Between now and New Years, I hope to challenge your perspective. The one thing genuine Christians can do for the rest of humanity right now is to come alongside them and help lighten their load.

   We cannot lift the weight of their sin, we cannot solve the entirety of the Human Dilemma, but after these past 11 months we can be kind to our neighbors, sensitive in our businesses, gentle in our relationships with people, and offer a helping hand (food, tire change, snow shovel flowers, whatever…, to those around us.

     There has been so much pain, extensive loss (250,000 deaths USA), and anger over this past Presidential election that we need, collectively, to commit ourselves to being kind to one another.

      If there were ever a time for true Christians to step forward and take action, actionable kindness, it is now. No discussion, no siding with political parties, no dredged-up histories. KINDNESS. NOW.

      The leader of our Community Group prays every day that he will be kind to people.

      Why? Because kindness is not a natural human trait. Our natural bent is to retaliate against people who disagree with us or come against us. Kindness must be cultivated.

      And if you cannot think of any ways to be kind to your neighbors, and especially your political opposites…, “Houston, we have a problem.” Has our human nature supplanted our sense of forgiveness?!? Shouldn’t kindness be grounded in Christ’s love for us, instead of a reaction?!?

Remember how Christ’s apostle Paul admonished us, Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32 ESV.

So my trust through all this is in Jesus Christ, and will remain so.

     Where’s your trust?

Honor God, honor people, show a little kindness,
Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— INTERMISSION— thankful

After There’s Nothing Left: An Intermission

popcorn

If you have grappled with any of the issues in these posts (book) so far you might want to take a break at this point. This might be especially true if you are in a critical place in your life, a tipping point, but without hope. I have found through my own emptiness that you cannot, should not, continue with self-analysis and pondering 24/7. To do so depletes your strength and creates fearful concerns where none may be warranted.

     Most of us have a tendency to over-analyze. Then we over-analyze again, rolling around the data, the experiences, and interpersonal relationships in our heads to a fault. Too often, resulting in depression and loss of stability.

     So take a break. Process what you’ve read so far.

     I need a break. You probably do too. Dealing with depression and recovering your soul are not easy topics to dwell on for too long. Unless, of course, you are a counselor or psychologist, and it is your job.

      So for the next two months These posts will address the issues of this Thanksgiving and Christmas Season. There are other things we need to consider and set aside time and energy to ponder. Some of the ideas I want to look at are—

  • Kindness
  • Caregiving
  • Being loving
  • Thanksgiving
  • Transitions in Life
  • Dealing with Your Past
  • Letting go
  • Crazy Celebration

      Many of the people we know will find Thanksgiving and Christmas quite difficult times to live through. So let’s get down to the business of loving them in ways that reflect Christ, make a difference, and make sense.

Honor God, honor people, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— INTERMISSION— kindness

After There’s Nothing Left: Forgiveness from God

[note— in the United States, this is the day we chose our elected officials at the Federal level. I’m sure most of us need to seek forgiveness for many things we have said and done during these past weeks and months. We may need to seek forgiveness from others, and from God.]

Finally, I want to address the issue of accepting forgiveness from God. I struggle on many levels with this idea. Philosophically, if there is a God, and I indeed have wronged Him, it makes complete sense to repent, cease and desist in my rebellious actions, and seek forgiveness. But why would He even offer forgiveness? He certainly is in no way obligated to do so. All actions have consequences. So why am I offered forgiveness? I certainly have not fulfilled even the slightest requirements of obedience to His Laws; yet I do desperately try to live within the perimeters of His protection.

     As a Christian I know I already have forgiveness, through Christ’s life-sacrifice to pay the penalties for my sin, as well as for the sins of a host of others. As I grow in faith (and forgiveness) I become more aware of the effects my sin has on God and upon myself. “Loathing” seems to be a word that aptly describes my state. I loathe what I sense inside me and I loathe what I know it is doing to the God I say I love. I am ashamed. I am embarrassed to call Him my friend. How can I accept His forgiveness with any degree of integrity!?!  The answer is, I can’t.

      Most people do not phrase the question of forgiveness in this manner. Most people assume God forgives them. I find this a most dangerous assumption, unfounded in just about every religion on the planet. Furthermore, I find that most people assume that the God of the Universe is there to do their bidding, rather than the other way around: that we exist to serve the God who made us. How did we turn things upside down and become so topsy-turvy?

      The question we’ve always asked has been, “How can God NOT forgive everybody?” Rather, the more authentic question should be, “Why should God bother to forgive any one of us!?!”

      These are some of my philosophical questions around the issue of receiving forgiveness from God. But I have some personal issues with accepting His forgiveness as well. At one time, earlier in my life, these questions arose from constantly being reminded that I was a sinner, not good enough, that I could never please God. Thank you, American fundamentalism of the 1950s & ‘60s. Later in life my issues were more tied to, what my wife describes as, my morbid introspection about life; that constant sense of not being good enough, never quite measuring up in God’s eyes, or in the eyes of others. It was a feeling of constantly being judged. I deserve judgment, not forgiveness. Blame it on an unforgiving father, I was told. I couldn’t forgive myself: and I couldn’t trust in God’s forgiveness.

      It is true that for much of my life I have wrestled with chronic depression; not a depression that would institutionalize me, but rather a deep-seated nagging that I will never measure up. Looking back, I need to admit that I have been quite successful in pioneering many endeavors in life that turned out to be ground-breaking enterprises; one venture even pioneered a new field of study— [How Historical Paradigm Shifts Affect Cross Cultural Communication.] Accepting God’s forgiveness has been a long process for me. In the end, when I realized that Christ had actually forgiven me, it was like a brilliant explosion of light erupting in my heart and head. A true “Ah-Ha!” moment.

      Now I could forgive myself, God, and others. More significantly, I could now also accept his forgiveness.

      There is an odd sense of freedom that overpowers every aspect of your being when you realize that you stand free, forgiven, and have a new life in God. It took a long time, but I no longer live as a guilty Christian, but rather, a forgiven sinner.

Honor God, honor people, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— After There’s Nothing Left— the road ahead

After There’s Nothing Left: Forgiving Myself, Forgiving God, and Accepting His Forgiveness

Forgiveness for Myself

      As we move into these last three considerations in What Forges Forgiveness, forgiving others, and/or accepting their forgiveness is often representative of an inner need to forgive yourself. When I was a young boy, 8-16, I was told repeatedly that I could do nothing right; I was always wrong. As I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t even cut the grass right! (According to my dad.) Of course, I did blow up our basement with my Chemcraft Chemistry Set one Thursday afternoon.

      My dad was none too amused. He never forgave me: neither did I. I missed my experimentation with things about which I knew very little.

      So many of us go through our lives never forgiving ourselves for past failures, real or imagined. We live in a continual state of fear, or of being discovered, or of being ignored because we believe we are not worth that much—not even worth our own self-forgiveness.

      I was wrong to not forgive myself. So are you. I needed to forgive myself for the things I had done that were truly rebellious, illegal, and wrong. And I needed to ask forgiveness from others, especially my dad. Had I never forgiven myself, I doubt I would have ever believed that God could truly forgive me. But He did…, so I had better forgive myself as well!

      This next section, as well as next week’s, were not easy to write.

Forgiveness for God

      For a lot of us, there is a very deep seated need to forgive God. Not that God has intentionally done anything to us; but we often take it that way. Why did my dad die so young? Why God. I asked You to help me get into Princeton, but I didn’t. I, we, wanted to have children of our own, but we didn’t, or couldn’t. Even today, it gnaws away at my soul. I mean, what’s the point?!? I pray and nothing changes. God, You won’t do what I want You to! Really!?!  ‘nuf said.

      BUT, arising from the issue of NOT forgiving God, for whatever reason, is the matter of a life-long anger, a grudge, if you will, against God. I’ve seen this resentment grow in intensity within me. “Irrational” does not begin to describe the potency of some people’s hatred of anything religious, or spiritual, or especially, God. “If God exists, I don’t want anything to do with him!” people have told me. Maybe there was, at one time, a reason, an event, a tragedy where “God didn’t come through for me!” but that has long since been removed from our present situation. Now, we are left with only a pure, resolute resentment and absolute anger against Him.

      At the very least, this anger will eat away at your soul and spirit until you set yourself to resolve it. It will also eat away at other relationships in your life. Count on it.

      But do keep in mind that any of us can chose to forgive God for whatever we believe He has done to us, either by accident, intention, omission, or imagination, at any time. God is not sitting on His Throne in heaven thinking of new ways to hurt you, screw you over, or wreck your life. That makes no sense. Why?

      Why would the Lord God Creator of the Universe, and of us, want anything for us other than his best. He is much more the Lover than the Tyrant.

      In the next EMPulse, I want us to consider why it is so hard for some of us, OK, me, to receive Forgiveness from God.

Honor God, honor people, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— After There’s Nothing Left— forgiveness from God