After There’s Nothing Left: Soul Love

    Soul love is something both hard to define and something craved by every human being on this planet. It is the total love of one for the other; unrequited and free, without qualification or limit.

     Very few of us have experienced this kind of love. Stories and fables speak of it— Ruth & Naomi, Cupid & Psyche, Romeo & Juliet, Dr. Yury Zhivago & Lara. Young teens suppose they have found it. Newlyweds know they have. But what is it, really?

      Soul love is an unanswered love, one given expecting nothing in return. Many relationships fail because of “expectations” placed on the other to perform, to return an expected love demanded by the one giving love. This is not soul love. It is a business contract. A deal. A love not based on the emptying of ones-self, but of requiring recompense. Genuine soul love expects nothing in return. It loves with impunity, with no thought of compensation.

            Though most of us have been loved by another by at least one person in our loves, I have known only two soul loves, soul mates. One is my wife Starr, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith.” Except for the death do us part part, we have weathered & faced many storms; probably more to follow; but we will face them together as soulmates.

      The other soulmate in my life has been with me longer than Starr. Since my sophomore year of college, in March as I recall, I have lived with someone who has never left me, who has loved me no matter how I have treated him. Someone who has never changed even though I have floundered and risen to fame numerous times. And, yes, you have guessed it— it is the God who created me, Jesus Christ.

      It is an odd thing to know you have a daily, ongoing, safe relationship with the God of the Universe. But I am not unique; there are others around us who have this relationship. This relationship provides me with the richest of soul loves. And it makes loving other people as simple as having a cup of coffee, or tea.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

                                ~ Matthew 11:28 ESV

      In your life, may you find as great a source of soul-love as I have found in mine.

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

NEXT— After There’s Nothing Left— sources of soul love.

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: TRAGEDY

Mural_del_Gernika    Tragedy has such an all-encompassing way of devastating the soul; it destroys and shatters the very core of life; it wretches the gut, evoking extreme sorrow, weeping, and a disintegration of the spirit.  It leaves us, ostensibly, with nothing. We know it isn’t true; but it definitely feels that way.

      There was a time in my life when I took a two-month leave-of-absence from work because of issues with exhaustion and depression. My wife was pregnant with her first child, ever, and I was facing TMJ (Temporomandibular joint disorder) surgery that would leave my mouth wired shut for at least eight weeks (turned out to be twelve). Two weeks into my leave of absence I was dismissed from the company I had worked with for 17 years…, with two-weeks’ severance pay offered.  The surgery for my TMJ was already scheduled for the following month. The morning of my scheduled surgery my wife called from home (at 5:00 a.m.) to tell me she had lost her only pregnancy. We wept. We were at the bottom. We knew the only way we could go was UP. That somehow sustained us; that, along with the company of close friends, our trust in the God who made us, and our church. Over the next few weeks we adjusted to our loss, my intense pain from surgery, and the hope that God would not leave us alone. He did not.

      Over time our pain lessened, in all areas…, somewhat. Though to this day we still wonder what might have been had things been handled differently.

      The point is this— that Tragedy had a significant effect on my soul in a way immeasurably unlike anything else. Taking some time for soul rest, and recovery, following the devastation wrought by this kind of tragedy, or one like yours is imperative. You will not only need rest for your soul, but people who care for you, and even counselors who can guide you through its stages. (See Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying, 1969).  Do NOT expect your soul to automatically reset, or recovery to come without difficulty. It will not. Do not deny your pain. Live through it as best you can.

      But, as a genuine Christian speaking, I can assure you that a personal faith in God makes a big difference. Reaching out to Christ for solace, comfort, and direction will help a lot.

Honor God, honor people, make a difference,
Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Solutions— part 5, Deterrents to Soul Rest.

After There’s Nothing Left: Imbalance & Deception

6010535530_fb0c533fec_b[Note~ I have been very tempted to comment on the murder of George Floyd along with the subsequent protests, riots, and killings. So much of this has inundated our news-media in so many forms that I will not add my outrage to make sense to this horror. Being raised in an inner-city gang-based neighborhood was enough to taint my perception of the “good” of man for the rest of my life.  Instead, let’s direct our attention to further causes of depression— imbalance & deception.]

     For years, my wife and I were involved in rock climbing and highaltitude mountaineering (10,000’-14,000’). Not so much in these days. But we knew the critical nature of maintaining balance and a sense of where we were on the mountain. It is much the same in our own lives.

  1. Imbalance

              A third cause of soul exhaustion in life is imbalance. It is similar to #1, Over-Commitment, but far more complex. Through either over-commitment or a general laze of long-term haphazard living, you find your life has come apart and unraveled; it is in shambles. You feel off-kilter about everything. You give too much energy and time to non-essentials and too little time and energy to truly important things. In this state you cannot make a decision about the simplest of things. And you feel like you are constantly teetering on the edge of collapsing in on yourself. If imbalance doesn’t produce soul-exhaustion, nothing will.

              To maintain your balance, check in with the goals you’ve set for yourself. Measuring up? Or, ask someone who knows you how you come across these days.

  1. Deception

           It is pitiful to think that anyone would live a life of intentional deception. Sadly, too many of us do. Not in everything, to be sure; but in some areas of our lives we “fake good,” or “fake bad.” We pretend things are better or worse than they actually are. Or we try to put on a good front when we really do not have the slightest clue about what we are doing. (This may not be a bad thing in some cases.)

           Deception burns up energy: remembering what you said to whom; recalling which persona you need to put on in which situation; or reworking the truth to fit the conversation so you come out looking better. Whatever it is, deception eventually sucks the life out of you and exhausts the strength of your soul.

              Do not deceive yourself; this results in living a life as a shell, an untrue persona. We allow our minds to hide behind a projection of who we want to be, thus obscuring our genuine, transparent selves.

Honour God, honour people, make a difference,
Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President
NEXT— Physical exhaustion, fear, & deep wounding.

tenacity & disruptions: entangled

2957791455_5ef26bed52_bYou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 2 Timothy 2. [NASV]

     Entanglements. We all have them. At work. At home. With kids. In church. In our neighborhoods. Life gets messy. Then it gets messier. After that, it unravels. Inner, and possible outward, chaos ensues. If you’ve lived long enough, your life can become a disheveled web of over-commitments.

     So what’s to be done?!?

     The image in our passage is that of a soldier becoming disengaged from all the entanglements of civilian life. He is in the army. The only one he must please is his commanding officer. Therefore all the commitments in his civilian life must go. That’s what the service is.

So, some questions—

  • What entangles you in your everyday life? How will you detangle yourself?
  • What must change so you will please our heavenly Father?

     We all have this tendency to over commit to too many things. All we seem to do is run, run, run. Some of us don’t have one night off a week. That’s too much. You need time to rest, to breathe, to sit down with your spouse, have a good glass of wine, and simply talk with each other.  R e l a x.

     As a side note, some of us are even to busy to pray. That’s too busy. If we are so over committed that we do not have time to spend with the One we love something is seriously out of kilter. God loves you and wants to spend time with you. And you’re going to say no time for you. Really!

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,
Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT disruptions & tenacity— winning the prize

For a new year— on a personal note…

202     It’s New Year’s Day. By now most of us are exhausted from all the Christmas prep, buying way too many gifts, Tree decoration (and de-decoration), excessive amounts of FOOD, way too many Christmas cookies, more Food, and relatives descending in droves from places unknown (leaving us with the laundry).

     Time for a break.

     Whoops! Now it’s New Years. After all the celebration, thank God for football! With all the Bowl Games going on today at least we can relax with snacks we shouldn’t have and break all our resolutions in the first few hours of this new year.

     Some things to engage your more contemplative side—

  1. In whose lives do you want to make a difference this year? Names please.
  2. Do you have the relationship with your spouse that you want to have? What will you do to get it there?
  3. Did you have any $$$ left over from this last year? Good for you!
  4. What % of your income did you give to others last year?  Oh…, inappropriate question. You know what to do. Start TODAY.
  5. How will feed your soul in 2020? List and dates.
  6. Who do you need to befriend? Who do you need to drop?
  7. How will you make a difference for Christ and His glory in our world? Where? When?
  8. Should you buy a new mattress this year? How old is your present mattress? Sleep is important.
  9. What ONE THING will you commit to this year and get it finished! By June 30.
  10. What do you need to change in your life? Don’t know? Ask your spouse or a friend who you trust to be brutally honest with you.

     There is a phrase in Psalm 15 that always stays with me. It starts with a question—

15 O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?

He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
But who honors those who fear the Lord;
He swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He does not put out his money at interest,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken. [NASB]

     Like you, Starr and I have had quite a year. We’ve made commitments that were not always easy to keep. But we did it. Give us a call and we’ll tell you about it. Our love and prayers go out for you daily. Count on them.

Happy New Year!

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President
NEXT disruptions & tenacity

The Fear of the Lord

the-fear-of-the-lord2The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.  Proverbs 9:10

     We have very little understanding of the fear of the Lord in our era. If anyone does think about it, an image of an awe-powerful God sitting on a throne on Mt. Olympus comes to mind. He is the awful, powerful God lording his power over us. For most of us, that is ancient myth, Greek fable, and not a real reality. Nor do we rarely give a thought to a real Satan, a roaring lion, prowling about seeking to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8)  Our world has moved beyond such myths.

     Nonetheless, should we, in some way, fear the Lord? For those who live outside our faith, the answer is yes. But what about us who have placed our lives in Jesus’ hands, should we fear our Lord?

     It might be noted that we do have a way of constantly stepping outside of the perimeters of God’s protection for us. I would dare say that if we continually stray from the Truth and the practice of the Christian life we have something to be concerned about.

     The question is not Am I saved? Rather, it is— Am I abiding within God’s grace and living by the principles of the Christian faith laid down in Scripture? Not that our outward actions necessarily reflect an inward reality, but they do go a long way toward clarifying what is important to us.

     So, the real question then becomes, Where is your heart? What is the general direction of your passion, your direction in life, how you use your time and how you spend and give away your resources? “Where your heart is…” (Matthew 6:21) These things are measurable, not measured by deeds-done alone, but by inspiration and devotion. These are the internal qualities the drive us toward God. To not have them makes us mere actors in a play. Play-acting the Christian life is always an alarm for fearing God.

     You can run… .

     Besides, a HEALTHY fear of the Lord is a good thing, especially if it draws us into the presence of the Holy One. C.S. Lewis gives us a wonderful image of God. “he’s not a tame Lion, you know.” Who doesn’t approach a Lion with some healthy fear?

     Or, maybe gaining a deeper knowledge of God through Scripture and silence does produce a proper fear of him. Hummm?

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,
Gary

NEXT— “ad astra per alas porce…”.  

The Word of the Lord came to…

One of the most repeated phrases in our Scriptures is “The Word of the Lord came to … .” [e.g. – Jeremiah 1:1-19, Ezekiel 1:3, 21:18, ].  It seems that God spoke to many of His prophets and leaders far more directly than He does today. Maybe our generation is just too dense to hear God. Or could it be that we have the Scriptures revealed to us?

     Although, there have been times when even our ancient prophets could not (or would not) hear what the Lord was saying. Numbers 22:21-34 gives us such an example. Look it up. A little embarrassing.

     Does God speak directly to us today? Some say all we need is found in Holy Writ. Nonetheless, there have been times when people have heard God speaking to them directly. What are we to do with that?!? On a personal note, some people, Christians & otherwise, have told me they were directed by God to do a certain thing; and that I was to clarify what it was they were to do. No really, put me on the spot!

     The Word of the Lord, as the Christian Bible, is a revelation to us all. God gave it to us because He knew we could not understand Him by just looking around. Scripture is clarifying God to us. He knew us, as creatures who turned our backs on His grace, and could not see His Truth in the natural world. Thus, His Word is clarified and explained in the stories, poems, actions, and letters of Scripture. Frankly, though, many of us are still clueless as to how He wants us to honor Him and love one another. The word Dense comes to mind. Worse, we read the Bible and toss it aside, writing our own rules for living.

     This is not smart. To the contrary, it is dangerous.

     Nonetheless, there are some Christians to whom God has spoken specifically— Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Paul the Apostle, Constantine, Patrick, Graham, Wimber. Personally, I heard God command me to become a Christian. [It was not a comforting voice.] Then again, to marry my wife…, 48 years ago.

     So the question bounces back to you. Have you heard God speak, individually, to you? It certainly would not be binding upon all Christians; but it would most certainly be binding upon you; as long as it does not contradict anything in Scripture.

     My suggestion? Listen carefully, seek confirmation from Church Elders, clean up your life, and obey.

NEXT— Forgiveness

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Lese Majesty Notre Dame Cathedral

notre dame
(Photo credit LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)

     This is the image that blazed across our local newspaper in Colorado Springs this morning. Like many of us, it pierced my heart. I’m not that much a religious person, but I am a genuine Christian, one who doesn’t strap his faith onto the rest of his life; rather one who integrates his faith into everything he does.

     What struck me about this picture, being part art historian, is the juxtaposition of the alter, the cross, the statue of Mary holding her son Jesus, with the total devastation that lay at their feet. What a depiction of our present world’s quandary.

     Within less than 3 days of this tragedy, almost one billion dollars has been raised to rebuild this Parisian landmark. Pledges have poured in from across the world, from small churches in Arkansas, to major European conglomerates, to individuals, to tycoons, to common folk.  This incredible generosity bespeaks of the love and honor that people held for this global landmark— this personification of Paris. As one Parisian said,

 “Notre Dame is our history, it’s our literature, it’s our imagery. It’s the place where we live our greatest moments, from wars to pandemics to liberations.” [https://wnep.com/2019/04/15/first-photos-show-damage-inside-notre-dame-cathedral/]

May God bless all those who are contributing to the restoration of this majestic icon of Western Civilization!

     But what of the ruble that lay at the foot of the cross, at the feet of Jesus? These are the 850 year old oak beams that held the roof of the cathedral, now devastated and burned. What can replace them? Surely not more oak beams. But what?

     In so many ways this is an image of our postChristian world. A billion dollars will easily repair the cathedral, but what of the lives of people who have lost faith in their church, in their personal relationship and trust in God? What of them? What will become of them? A billion dollars doesn’t come near to rebuilding or restoring, their faith.

     I put it to you that genuine Christians around the world have a responsibility to reexamine their faith in the God of the universe who has created and who will restore all things to an greater glory, even greater than this glorious Notre Dame. We have the responsibility to repair and rebuild the faith of so many who have lost faith in Christ in these pluralistic and often convoluted times.

     So as we contribute to repairing this magnificent cathedral, may we also spend some time, and money, rebuilding others’ lives, to honor God, in Christ Jesus. May this tragedy remind us again of our mission to bring this broken, charred world to the offer of a new life in the Lord who sustains it all— Jesus Christ!

A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so everyone would have life, and have it fully.
[John 10:10 CEV]

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED!

Gary

Ugly Feet

Gary_ Davis_ Hobbit_ Christian_ NEED_ Feet_ uglyThanks to J.R.R. Tolkien, Hobbit feet are IN! Well, maybe not so much in real life, but at least in alternate specie realities. Progressive Cubist artist Marcel Duchamp thought that feet were the ugliest part of a woman’s body. Today’s cosmetic advertising would have us believe otherwise; that we must have the cute widdle feet of Tinkerbell. As for men’s feet…, that’s why God invented shoes.

Feet take us where we want to go. Feet kick futbols & footballs. Feet balance the rest of the body vertically. Feet ride snowboards & surfboards.

Best of all, feet tickle.  ‘Nough said. STOP IT!

To the point—where do you want your feet to take you? Your feet can place you out in front of the tribe, and you will become a paradigm pioneer. [Do guard against the arrows aimed at your back.] Your feet can place you on the right track of a disciplined, purpose-driven life, where you can accomplish great things. Or your feet can lead you to become a faithful follower of a great cause or person. Still one more path is available for our feet— dragging feet can leave us behind as stragglers in life’s great adventures. We adopt a wait-and-see-what-happens attitude.

In any case, our feet, well, my feet (not pictured above), will remain ugly. But we can train them to get the job done, or pamper them while others get on with the work of life and make a difference.

Just don’t ever settle for de-feat. (I’ll keep my day job.) Also note Isaiah 52:7, Christian Bible. Maybe there’s a chance for our ugly feet afterall!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary