Advent #4 Peace

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Merry Christmas!

      The angels declared to the shepherds “…peace among those with whom he is pleased.”  Yet, those were not peaceful times in Israel. The revolt of the Maccabees had been crushed. Roman invaders had set up their own “parallel” government; and there were weekly executions of rebellious Jews. How could these times ever be considered peaceful? Still, the angels proclaimed PEACE!

      An odd announcement for those times. And ours. Taking the world as a whole, there is not a wide dispersion of peace abounding. Just glance at your news-feed. Scan your own life; peaceful? Yet it was in such times that the Lord God Creator of the universe chose to enter our realm. [“in the fullness of time, God sent forth his son ”] To this day there still remains evidence of His arrival— us. Yes, us. Christ birth, life, and death have done all that is necessary to open the way for us to be restored in a relationship with our Creator. One question we need always ask of ourselves is— Do our lives bear evidence of His coming?

      Another question— Do you think your life would change for the better in a relationship with God? Or, is a relationship with God really matter that much?

      These are not a trick questions; so, here’s another.

      Do you think your life might carry more peace within, in a relationship with God?

      I’ve always felt less-than-fully-human when I move outside my own relationship with the God who made me. Like half of me is missing. Identity crisis.

      In Romans 12:8 we learn that “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with all.” This peace, between individuals, political factions, and governments, is only possible if it emanates from a heart of peace.

      This Christmas, seek this kind of inward peace that it might flow throughout our world.

Be peace,
Gary
Dr. Gary Davis, President

www.CluelessChristianity.com  

NEXT TIME~ Christ!

Give Thanks

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What are you thankful for? Before you answer let me reflect on “being thankful” for a bit.

            Most of us have so much we grow comfortable with what we have and assume we will always have the means to replenish or buy more. Canada just observed Remembrance Day about 11 days ago. Armistice Day was just commemorated across Europe. In the US we have Veterans Day: a day becoming more solemn even though world conflicts lessen.

            Now, in the US, our Thanksgiving is upon us. Question: What are you thankful for? Here are a few things I am thankful for—

  1. You! Because you take the time to read what I write. For your love and friendship.
  2. My wife of almost 48 years— Starr.
  3. Josh & Blair; Jax & Caleb.
  4. Bethany & Jeff; ‘Bekah, Duke, & John.
  5. My mom & dad. Technically, they’re both dead; but not in my heart.
  6. My wacked-out sister Carol Norton. I love you sis! J
  7. William H. VanArtsdalen, Jr.— who keeps a roof over our heads.
  8. An ability to write. Still.
  9. A clear mind. A clear mind. A clear mind. And umm, oh— a memory.
  10. Being forgiven. I cannot imagine who I would have been without the grace of Christ that stalked me.
  11. Health— mostly.
  12. My incredible education!
  13. Usefulness for some Christians: more useful to many of the normal people around me.
  14. NEED’s Board of Directors scattered all over the world.
  15. Melanie Lamere— my right-hand man in New England.
  16. Ian Montgomery— my comrade-in-arms. The other half of the devious-duo.
  17. 40 Years in New England. Autumns.
  18. 1 year in Colorado. Mountains.
  19. Financial backers who believe in what I am doing. You’re all crazy.
  20. A perspective on life that the best is yet to come. I’m not done yet.

Giving thanks,

Gary
Dr. Gary Davis, President
www.CluelessChristianity.com  

Etiquette for Enlightened Evangelism

Gary, davis, Christian, manners, care, pray, Many people would agree that manners matter. In the case of how we interact with people outside our Christian culture it is just as important. Here are 10 rules to help you in your etiquette within society.

1. PRAY– Ask God to prepare you to offer Him to people you don’t know.

2. Do your homework-Learn about yourself, your culture and the gospel.

1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…”

3. Go where people go– Jesus didn’t sit around and wait for people; follow His example.

4. Shut your face-Much of the work we need to do has already been done by the Holy Spirit. Ask questions to see what is important to them. Find out what the Lord has revealed to them already.

5. Be interactive in conversations-Let feedback determine the way your express God’s love to another. (This requires you to listen)

6. Become transparent– Relax, you don’t have to be perfect, but you MUST be open and honest. Let others see that Christianity can be messy, because it is REAL!

7. Develop the art of caring-People are not a sting operation: they are not projects or targets. We must learn how to love them in the process of life. Meaning caring take time.

8-Make time for people– Now take some time with them. The gospel is best communicated with action more than words.

9- Find out how people it in life without God– This is critical! If a person feels no need for God because he can make it on his own, then how will they ever respond with a NEED for the kingdom? Another reason to take your time and learn more about a person.

10-Pray with people– Ask first, then watch how God becomes visible in their lives.

 

Serenity

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Serenity
Even the word feels good as it rolls off your tongue-  s  e  r  e  n  i  t  y. Like a magic word that calls forth a Genie from a bottle, the word beckons us to come apart to a peaceful place, to find solace, to rest, to be waited upon by a flood of servants! Or merely to be able to close our eyes on a warmed beach under a palm tree, or in a chaise lounge at a mountain retreat.
The serenity I need I find in front of a warm fireplace at the confiscated Lakehouse, deep within the Fall/Winter woods of northern New Hampshire. It is there that I contemplate the deeper questions of life-  like…, why my navel is an inny, or how did I ever wind up with such a wonderful wife. Or why God has honored us with His blessings and the privilege of serving others?
It seems that every now and again I push myself so hard that I border on collapse. Such was October, and September, and the prior Summer en toto. I don’t notice it so much as my wife. When she puts her foot down, “That’s it. You’re about to give way to the pressures of caring for people. You’re LEAVING! Go to the Lakehouse and get some rest!” Thus, I go! Granted, it’s only a day or two, but that’s enough for me, I think.
If you haven’t gotten the point of this emPulse yet, let me make it perfectly clear. Any of us can get caught up in the business of life, and work, and family, and other people, especially on a day when we are excited (or forced) to be around friends and relatives stuffed with turkey, so unsuspectingly, that we forget to take care of ourselves-  our bodies, our emotions, our spirits, our souls. We start to come apart because we have forgotten to come apart to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, I have a wife who knows when I’ve had enough…, even though I am clueless to the actuality. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. Remember to view yourself as expendable. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. You will be missed when you get away; but you will come back a renewed man, a refreshed woman.
A little serenity goes a long way to clear the mind and restore the soul.
27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
–           John 14:27 Christian Bible
Have a good Thanksgiving.
 
Gary

Thanks-giving

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Turkey, Thanks, Thanksgiving, Thankful Once a year in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving; a time to remember to be thankful for all that we have. Friends and family gather together to give thanks over a bountiful meal, with turkey & mashed potatoes & gravy, yams, green beans with slivered almonds, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, fresh rolls from the oven…, and pie! Apple pie (a la mode), pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, even rhubarb pie. Kinda gets your mouth watering.

And football. LOTS of football! This year, depending on the number of channels you pay for, there are 3 NFL games from which to choose; but that’s just the NFL. Did I mention there’s more food! Hot crab dip, onion dip, spicy habanero salsa, and even Tzatziki. Blown your diet yet?

Then think of the next 3 weeks + of turkey & cranberry sauce sandwiches. Maybe not.

Oddly, one of the things missing in all this celebration and comradery is— remembering to give thanks.  In most American families not even a prayer of thanks is offered before the meal anymore. Who are we supposed to thank? What’s the history of Thanksgiving? Google it.

Here are some suggestions on how to instill an aspect of thanks-giving into your Thanksgiving.

1.      Whether you are the chef, invited guest, or family, gather your wits about you to celebrate with an attitude of how can I serve rather than serve me.

2.      If you are a guest, bring something. Anything. It’s historical.

3.      DO NOT make football the god-of-the-day.

4.      If you believe in God, DO start with a prayer of thanks-giving.

5.      If you do not believe in God, at the beginning of the meal, thank the chef! Profusely.

6.      Toward the end of the meal, go ‘round the table asking each one there to offer at least one thing for which they are thankful. Kids included.

7.      Offer to help with the dishes! If others don’t offer, conscript them. Note- the chef is not allowed to participate in kitchen clean-up.

8.      If you are a guest, do not linger about forever. Unless invited to stay, leave after you do the dishes.

9.      If you are the host, be gracious, but sit down. Stop!

10.  NOW you can sit and watch more football. [After you go for a hike to shed the excess bulk.]

From our family to yours, we wish you the best season of thanks-giving ever. Gobble gobble.

 

Happy Thanksgiving,

  Gary

How to receive

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Gift, ReceivingFollowing my article on How to Give, my thoughts wandered to the other side of the equation. Namely, that some of us have difficulty in receiving gifts. In our day, even a simple gift gives rise to suspicion in the mind of the receiver that “there must be strings attached.” What does he/she want in return? I do not deserve this, so, what’s going on? Thus, another list. J

How to Receive A Seven Point Primer

  1. Accept the gift, responding with gratitude, without any sense of obligation to return one. To do so makes the gift a pawn on a chessboard; it becomes a game, barter, if you will, a contractual relationship, and lessens both the gift AND the giver.
  2. Admit that you do not have everything you need, let alone what you want. Distinguish between the two. Accepting a gift that covers a need is not charity; well, actually it is: but it is charity in its purest form— LOVE. Accepting a gift of desire, be it a gift card to Walmart or Neiman Marcus, are both gifts of love. Respond reverently. [note: I love white chocolate.]
  3. Accept a gift with thanksgiving, especially if given out of a sense of obligation. Whether in an office or extended family, many gifts are given out of a sense of obligation. [Fruit cakes come to mind.] Accept these gifts, no matter how horrible, with external joy and internal wonder. For even gifts of obligation are still gifts. Be thankful.
  4. Accepting a gift, given in sacrifice, will help you grow in humility. Receiving a gift can be particularly difficult when you know that the giver has sacrificed to give you this gift. For whatever reason, they chose to honor you with a gift of their hands, their labor. Why? That is their business. The fact that they have done so should elicit a great sense of humility in you.
  5. Accepting a gift, given in humility, will help you diminish your pride. If it does not, you have a problem. Some people have a grand sense of William Henley’s poem INVICTIS. I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.They are islands, standing alone against the foe, unconnected to family & community by stubborn pride. Gifts become challenges to their independence and individualism.

Really!?! Their pride is not a symbol of their strength, but a sign of their resistance in becoming part of anything beyond themselves. Isolationism in any form is not safe; it is dangerous. So come on, accept gifts given in humility with humility. Make sense?

  1. You cannot give what you have not received. Unless the love of God is in you, you will run out of strength to love others, and yourself. To receive God’s love is to enable yourself to give, and receive, with abandon. ‘Nough said.
  2. Remember, “To whom much is given much will be required.” Receiving gifts should empower you tremendously. Receiving a gift in genuine humility and graciousness will enable you to both love and give with little thought of what you might receive in return. Thus, though much will be required of you, you will be more than willing to give it gladly.

Thank you, one and all!

Gary

How to Give

http://www.giftideasformen.com

In the spirit of this approaching Christmas season (Hanukkah was over the evening of December 5th) it might be a good time to be reminded of some of the principles of giving. Keep in mind that giving should be meaningful, both for the giver and the receiver. Never give out of rote: give because it is right and good.  Ergo—

How to Give—a Seven Point Primer

  1. Give because it is right. No matter what your definition of right is, giving cannot be construed as anything else. It is not a bribe, a peace-offering, or a one-upmanship on the receiver. It must simply be simply right, nothing else.
  2. Give within your means—with some wee bit of sacrifice. It may never be noticed by the other person. That does not matter. It will secretly mean much much more to you.
  3. Give in terms of the other person’s wants and needs, NOT in terms of what you would like to give them. When my wife and I were first married I would always give her clothing; she could have cared less. Didn’t even take the blouse or scarf out of the box. Then I noticed she loved to read: so I gave her books. Guess what? She hugged & kissed me and vanished for three days reading the new book. I learned to give in terms of what she wanted.
  4. Plan for giving. Always try to squirrel away cash-in-a-stash for later giving. It’s freeing! Giving up 2 cups of coffee a week could free up $20 a month. Get the picture?
  5. Get into the practice of giving. Christmas won’t be such a big thing if you already give to others regularly.
  6. Give graciously. Not lavishly, unless if seems appropriate to you. There is little in this life that expresses genuine love like sacrificial graciousness.
  7. Accept ALL gifts with thankfulness and humility. The one giving them has sacrificed for you. Especially be thankful for hand-made gifts, no matter the quality. They are the most precious of all.

Above all, be thankful that you have the means to give anything at all. Not all people on this planet have the resources to give very much. So, if you are one who does, please do not hold back. And always remember the poor in your giving. God does. Please.

Merry Christmas,

Gary