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

Of Cubes & Chaos: Paradigm Positioning

authograph-world-map-projection-4

    Ever see a map of the world that looks like this one? Probably not. This is one of the 2D maps that keeps the positions of the continents in correct proportion.

    Unlike the Mercator map (see below) which keeps the longitude and latitude parallels in line & makes Greenland look pretty much like the biggest continent on the face of the planet, whereas the AuthaGraph map is concerned with representing the continents in proper proportion to one another.

    This is a major shift in how we image, or imagine our planet to appear in a 2D format. It requires us to think differently.map 2

    For many of us this amounts to a new way of perceiving. It forces us to consider a new paradigm of the placing of the continents.

    The same kind of paradigm positioning is now thrust upon the Church of Jesus Christ. The Church has known for quite some time that she is no longer a dominant force in the world in a political sense. But she still holds the power of God to change cultures and individual lives. We need to learn a new way of intermingling that is in keeping with the new paradigms of our changing cultural attitudes to our faith.

    We need to position ourselves within a new way of perceiving, and of being perceived, in our rapidly changing world. ALL Christian witness is predicated on the following factors: Scripture, culture, personality, relationships, and the power of God at work in us, individually, and globally. Over the centuries, the Church has grown more organizationally than spiritually: as such, it has become more concerned with quantifiable control than empowered presence. This is an imbalance and must be adjusted.

    But how?!?  Might I suggest that we start by losing our fear and judgmentalism and learn to love our healthy pagan neighbors as themselves— the way Jesus loved people. His love was full of compassion, passion, patience, truth and grace. Should our love be any less than that?

    That’s right, even the way we love people has to change. Paradigm positioning is real.

NEXT— Paradigm Positioning 2…

Closing Doors #4 The power and the glory?

img_8814     From 1,000 to 1,500, Europe saw unprecedented changes in virtually every aspect of life. The Black Plague and a “Mini Ice-Age” [1312-1850] had decimated the population, while the crop failures of 1315-1322 devastated the economy and the population. The Church in Europe had sunk to the level of feudal governance, charging their adherents for everything—baptisms, funerals, penances, and indulgences (to buy their way into heaven).

     The priesthood became exorbitantly powerful and wealthy. During the famines and cold weather they were able to wear warm, elegant clothes and live in luxury, while the hoi polloi could barely keep their rags mended. The Church also had a plentiful storage of food: at one point, wheat prices rose by 320% (France).  It was these extravagances, practices and heretical theology that led a monk in Germany, one Martin Luther, to lash out in protest against the Catholic Church. His actions resulted in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.

     Alongside the Church, the rest of Europe witnessed great strides in technology, art, and exploration. The “new world” was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Themovable type Printing Press, invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1455, ushered in the first days of the Information Age. In architecture and art, grandiose style of Baroque prevailed. Albrecht Durer (Praying Hands) imported Italian influence into Germany. Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo became the quintessential artists who developed perspective in their paintings and sculpture. Hayden, Handel, Bach, and Mozart scored complex orchestral pieces. Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Johannes Kepler proposed a heliocentric (not geo-centric) understanding of our solar system.

     The idea of human reasoning as a way of determining Truth was proposed by René Descartes. The idea of common sense came from John Locke. These philosophers, and others, influenced the ideas found in the U.S. Constitution.

     In the midst of all these revolutionary inventions, discoveries, new ideas and technologies, where stands the Church? In two words— wealthy and split: no longer between East and West, but between Catholic centralism, and Protestant diversity and expansion. The new Protestant ideologies fostered a rise in creative reorganization and reconstruction. In some ways, this freed Christian thinkers to reexamine Scriptural Truths in the light of the cultural and scientific revolutions of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Protestant churches became the churches of the people, rather than the authoritative dominance of the clergy in the Catholic Church.

     But things were changing. Between 1500 and 1850 the relationship between the Church and her surrounding cultures witnessed great strides in compassion, but also great assaults from the spread of Enlightenment and Renaissance ideologies. Eventually, even American individualism spread throughout Western Culture…, and the faith, with both positive and negative effects. A new secularism in the Church began to erode her influence in our world.

     True, the Church had finally opened her doors to the outside world— and she had lost her healing edge.

 In…— not of,
  Gary

Why does love even exist?

dr gary davis, clueless, christian, relationships, love, purpose   Try to imagine your world without love? Hard to do, isn’t it. Most of us have been wounded in a relationship. It hurt. Some of us have lost a husband, a wife, or a child. That pain is unbearable; a gut-wrenching vacuum that nothing can fill. If you have God in your life you have a great resource for strength & solace; if not…, how do you ever deal with the agony?!?

Back to my original question— Why does love even exist? Frankly, love is something we all take for granted. It’s just part of the fabric of life. But for some of us love is rather close to an impossibility. Either we’ve lost the ability to love from some past experience, or we are simply incapable of loving or accepting love. We fear love for…, whatever reason. So we always have our guard up, protecting our hearts.

Scientists have concluded that love is an inner chemical response to some external stimulus. Really! So why do we love some people and not others? And why do we not loveeverybody? Equally? Some other species on this planet form what appears to be a lovingfamily entity. Is it? And, unlike humans, they commit for life. Humm.

Evolutionists will insist that love, even if only an internal chemical reaction, is there for the preservation of our species. That doesn’t ring true for me. Love exists for so much more than that. It’s what binds people together; it is the bond of trust, comradery, brotherhood, friendship, parenting, caring for the dying, sticking with someone through thick and thin, remaining faithful.

The evolutionary theory has it all wrong. Love is a gift from our Creator. It fulfills us as human beings. It brings joy at the end of sorrow, peace after suffering, release in finality. It brings elation at that first kiss, and the second, the third…, lalalala. Love exists to force us to define boundaries that are appropriate to the nature of the relationship we hold with each other person, or people, or nation. Love is an inner ethereal reach for meaning and connection to something, someone, outside of ourselves. It is Devine and human at the same time. A “chemical response” can no more define the reason love exists than a bumble bee could describe the Universe.

Love exists, simply, for us. It was built into our beings at the beginning. Period. Please, argue with me.

 NEXT DISCUSSION:  How does love affect us?

 Love rocks!

Gary

The Christian Way?

dr, gary, davis, highway, christian, way, politics, religionIf you’ve ever driven across this nation’s highways you know that at times roadmaps, GPS, and Road Signs, and actual roads seem to be at odds with one another. My proof for this? LA. ‘Nough said.

The same convoluted mess can often be found among the many theological/political roads the Church has followed over the last two millennia. Os Guinness puts it well in his book RENAISSANCE (2014).

“Whenever God has not given us clear and authoritative instructions as to how we are to conduct our lives, we are free to pursue our own solutions within the guidelines of the principles God has given us. But that means that our best solutions will always be a Christian way of doing things. They are not the Christian way.

 “In light of God’s principles, we can say that certain ways of doing things that contradict those principles are not Christian, but we can never say that one way alone is. In that sense, there is no one ‘Christian economics,’ any more that there is one ‘Christian retirement plan,’ one ‘Christian political party,’ or one Christian anything… .

 “This caution applies equally to our attitudes to cultures. Doubtless all Christians have their favorite periods of Christian history; which to them represent the golden age of faith. The Orthodox prize the age of the early Fathers. Catholics talk reverently of the medieval world and ‘the great age of faith.’ Protestants elevate the Reformation and its ‘recovery of the gospel and the Scriptures.’ Evangelicals take great pride and courage from the First Great Awakening and its potent combination of the preaching of the gospel and the spawning of myriad social reforms. And Pentecostals and charismatics hard back to the Azusa Street revival and its triggering one of the greatest and still continuing missionary advances in the history of the Christian church.

 “Yet all these periods were at best more or less Christian, and today their flaws, their blind spots, their unintended consequences could be enumerated along with their undisputed blessings.” (122-123)

Navigating one’s faith journey along today’s spiritual and ecclesiastical highways is just as fraught with individualistic potholes and theological blind spots as in previous generations. Do not be so presumptuous as to assume my way is best.

Constantly return to the Scriptures in the context of fellow believers to learn afresh the principles God has given us live healthy lives before him.  Let me leave you with this—a line from a song written by Hillsong United, sung by Taya Smith. “I touch the sky…, when my knees hit the ground.”

 

You have my prayers,

Gary

Christmas Future Past

chrstmas future pastChristmastime changes as we grow up. My childhood Christmas’ were filled with model cars, trains, wooden airplanes, & cookies! My mom could make the bestest Christmas cookies ever!

As I approached my teens took on the shapes of bikes, guests around the dinner table, and spending Christmas day with friends of my parents, or relatives who were terrified of children. They were the days when I felt like an afterthought.

My College days remedied that as I would spend much of Christmas at home, but not with my parents. Rather, with my own friends. As I look back, this was quite selfish and insensitive of me.

Marrying Starr was probably the best gift God ever gave me. We built a home together and then celebrated Christmas after Christmas in lavish insanity! They were wonderful days of cutting down our own tree (which we still do), hiding presents at neighbor’s homes, and, of course, baking more cookies. I would never have imagined that my wife could outbake my mother; but she did.

Now, our children are growing their own Christmas traditions with families of their own. They “visit” us at Christmas. It feels weird. We who shared so much together as a family are divided between Christmas Past, and Christmas Future. Letting go is hard to do. Starr and I miss our traditions and our times together. But all of us go through this, don’t we.

So now we are turning the page to a new saga of Christmases in our lives. New times shared, multiple Christmases, blending and separating new & old traditions, celebrating together sometimes; mostly, with all our children somewhere else on the map. Back to just us again…, but different.

So as you celebrate this Christmas season, enjoy the memories of the past. But keep your pen on the paper to write new customs to celebrate Christmas in the future. God gave us this time of year so we could shift gears from the everyday routine of living, to be with family, families, friends, past & future, and to thank God for giving us a baby who would change the world forever.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

  Gary

Cotton Candy Christians

cotton candy, christians, muslims, real, faith, genuineAbu Bakr al Baghdadi, the recognized leader of the new Islamic Caliphate-without-borders, accused those Muslims who do not support ISIS’ interpretation of the Qu’ran, as being “cotton-candy-Muslims.” His disgust with the mediocre state of Islam today drew him to support, sponsor, and now lead the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

His vehement declaration about Muslims drew me to ponder whether or not evangelical Christians in the West could be accused of being cotton-candy-Christians? How could normal people spot a cotton-candy-Christian? Some thoughts—

1.      Uses religious phrases to sound Christian and fit in.

2.      Cannot communicate in normal speech patterns to normal people.

3.      Freezes up when a “non-Christian” asks them about their faith. Gets all tight. Falls back on some pre-scribed formula.

4.      Remembers wrongs. Does not forgive, but pretends to.

5.      Knows little to nothing about what’s going on in the world but judges it nonetheless.

6.      Great at quoting Scripture, even when inappropriate.

7.      Is afraid of everything and everyone outside their Christian Bubble.

So then I wondered, How could a normal person spot a genuine Christian? Hummm, let’s see… .

1.      Their inconceivable capacity to forgive others.

2.      Enjoys the company of normal people.

3.      Celebrates life!

4.      Does not judge anyone. Anyone. Leaves that to God.

5.      Is gracious to a fault, sacrificing their own livelihood for that of others.

6.      Weaves their faith into conversations without intent; rather, with aplomb.

7.      Gives God room to work. Doesn’t strive to “close the deal.

There are probably many more observations of a cotton-candy Christian and a genuine Christian that could be added to this appraisal. Please send your thoughts on this to me. But, for now, I will leave you with this—

Which list more closely describes your faith?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Trouble Transitions

Gary, Davis, Christianity, Change, Trouble, Transitions          Far too frequently we hear the cry that our society needs more change agents. The implication is that the way things are presently just isn’t good enough. Pick a field— politics, business, transportation, medicine, religion (especially Christianity), finances, yadayadayada. Everything needs some form of change.

            The problem with change is that it invariably dumps us into a transitional time where even more things become unclear, unsteady, and iffy. O joy. Just what we need— more instability. Well, actually, we do.

Transitions in any segment of life move us out of the predictability, safety and definitions within one life-phase into an arena of uncertainty, a transition.

Transitions aren’t necessarily marked by growth. Though most people would hope they grow within a transition, many people, and businesses flounder, unable to set a new direction, given the changing global circumstances or personal situation. But without the cloudiness of a transition, things would stay too-much-same.

When you think about it, the cycle of phases and transitions, phases and transitions, is constant throughout your own life, or the life of a company, or country. The shifts are marked by what Malcom Gladwell has declared as tipping points— literally, those events or experiences that push us right over the edge and force us to consider something else in the future…, or tomorrow, or next week.

So when you consider becoming a change agent also consider how it will affect you, personally, your business, your family, and the greater good. Do you want to create the circumstances that lead you and those with you into a transition?

Transitions are uncertain times. Just make sure you are ready for the fog that lies ahead. But, by all means, keep moving forward. Besides think of all the fun constant predictability takes out of the adventure we call life?!?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Facebook Rant

twitter, rant, trevin wax, Gary, davisAlthough this post from Trevin Wax is two years old it still deserves consideration, especially during this month of being thankful. Too many of us are full of rage and rant; some express it behind the wheel of a car, others, through their RANTs on FaceBook, instagram and twitter. When Christians RANT…, it goes to prove just how wide the division is between “us & them” really is.

When you look at your friends list, are you only seeing people who agree with you? People who will pat you on the back every time you say something? Maybe its time to think about the people who stopped being “friends” with you, or the people you have unfriended. Challenge yourself to be love-able to someone you don’t agree with today.

Unlike Jesus, we have lost the ability to walk among people who disagree with us and love them. Sad.

Gary

Pope Francis in America

Pope Francis, Gary Davis, 365Christianity, Christians, Clueless, Culture, Alfredo BorbaAs only the fourth Pope to set foot on American soil, Pope Francis has sparked an interest in not only the Christian faith, but in all religion across this land. Questions like, What do I believe? Do I really believe what I say I believe? What parts of those beliefs affect my life on a daily basis? And on a larger scale, What is our responsibility to the poor, the displaced, the strangers in our midst, and those of other faiths? Or, yet again, What is our responsibility to climate change? How can we handle the economic inequity across the globe?

 On September 23rd, in his speech before a joint session of Congress (http://time.com/4048176/pope-francis-us-visit-congress-transcript/), Francis graciously summarized & tackled two major areas of concern we need to address— CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT and CULTURAL WASTE.

 On the matter of Cultural Engagement, he encouraged all Christians, everyone in the United States, and everywhere, to solve the world crises in immigration, of refugees in the Middle East and Europe, to seek solutions to seemingly unending regional conflicts, and to learn that differing cultural perspectives can actually serve to improve the human race rather than to further divide it. We all must engage people who are different from us, for our own sake. Otherwise our differences will lead to misunderstanding and misunderstanding to mistreatment and war. We must end our isolationism.

 On the matter of Cultural Waste, Pope Francis’ deep concern was not only what we all are doing to our environment through national industrial pollution and waste byproducts, his concern was primarily with our attitude toward the humanity of humans. He called for an end to treating illegal immigrants as numbers, and called for an attitude where they are simply people, seeking a better life. He called for governments worldwide to find a solution to the massive migration of people from the Middle East and Northern Africa fleeing for their lives and for safety to European and Western borders. We dare not turn our backs on them because of their massive considerable numbers; they are people.

 His admonitions should move all of us to contact our Congressmen and Representatives to STOP ignoring these tragedies as if time will simply take care of them. It will not. WE must take care of them as if God is demanding that we do it. I couldn’t agree more.

What are you being called on to do to make a difference?