SWEAR…. to your own hurt

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Ok, I’ve written about this before. Numerous times. But after a little over 25,000 posts I’m not going to do a word search to find them.

Psalm 15:1 asks a dual question—

Lord, who may abide in your tent?

Who may dwell on your holy hill?

The rest of the chapter gives the answer. Our concern today is with the latter part of verse 4.

He swears to his own hurt and does not change.

Not that this is anything new. This has always been a challenge to our species. But in our present era, it seems that “oaths” in general have no significance. They are just words. Words that are expedient for the moment. They have little context and no consequence.

         But it was not always so. After the Classical Period, in the Middle ages, between the 5th and and late 15th centuries, oath swearing was a serious matter. It was a code of honor that could not be broken except by death.

         How did we get to where we are today? Here’s a quick summary.

In a Christian world, words reflect reality.

In a postChristian world, words create reality.

After that, words ARE the reality.

Reference points, and meaning, are not obligatory.

Swearing an oath in “After that…” is merely a useful politeness to give some fake solemnity to an event.

         But this is not so before God. When we swear an oath before God, it binds us to what we have sworn for life. And eternity. Ignoring, forgetting, or breaking a promise to God is a serious matter. It has serious consequences for anyone who considers doing this.

         To swear an oath before God requires we DO NOT CHANGE in our commitment. We set our course and do not veer from it. Doing so does put our lives in danger. In danger to ourselves, and in danger with God.

         I’ve often defined sin as stepping outside of the perimeters of God’s protection. Watch your step. No one falls into sin: we plunge knowingly into its mire.

         In business relationships, marriage, friendships, and personal principles swear to your own hurt, honor your promises, and do not change.

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Exuberant Faith! Wahoo!

The Glory of God in Creation

The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

~ Psalm 19:1.

  This past weekend Starr and I took 2½ days in Rocky Mountain National Park just outside of Estes Park, CO.

  The picture for this EMPulse is outside the full length window …., in our shower. Yes, it had a curtain for the faint of heart.

  We had not been in the Park in quite some time. So, this was a special time for refreshment and rest. The place we stayed, Romantic Riversong Inn, was perfect. What a great place to get away and come along ourselves again. The evidence for God’s handiwork was everywhere.

  Hiking and relaxing went hand in hand with the beauty of our rest. We need to do this more often.

  So do you. Even without a window in your shower.

  With all the tragedy and strife, the heartache and loss, in this world around us, . Survival of the fittest be damned! This world, this universe, is God’s marvel. When our telescopes can peer back in time and find His works there, there is no doubt that the universe is His grandiose reflection. Didn’t we just photograph a young star that was 12.9 billion light years away!!! Truly magnificent!

  But I’ll settle for these Rocky Mountains in the middle of Colorado.

  Need more evidence of His majesty? The human body. Healing, both Divine and otherwise. Invention. [OK, I love Volvos.] Gentleness, Love, Gracious sacrifice. Birth…, of humans, animals, and all creation!

  The puzzling part is that we focus more on the agony we create than the beauty God has made. YES, we must confront the results of the destruction in our world; both natural and made by us. But there comes a time when we should pull away from the woes of this world and remind ourselves of God’s beauty.

  Starr and I encourage you to get away and breathe fresh air. Mountains or beach are equally suitable.

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Swearing… to your own hurt.

Ukraine

  Again?!?

     The images coming out of Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian cities is heart wrenching. Three million (3½?) displaced or evacuated. Fathers torn from wives and families. Babies. Children. Destruction. Disruption. And unknown death.

     Such slaughter and brutality has not been seen since Myanmar, Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Cambodia. The Second World War started with a grab for land and power. Germany invaded Poland. The First World War started with the assassination of Arch-Duke Ferdinand. What prompted President Putin to start this one?  

     Greed…, and Pride.

     Vladimer Putin has always been obsessed with Joseph Stalin. He is intent in reclaiming lands that will restore Russia to its former Empire standing. No matter the cost to civilization, lives, or displaced peoples. His invasion of Ukraine harkens back to our relentless will to power. [Thank you Friedich Nietzsche. 1844 – 1900] Nazi Germany did the same thing when it invaded Poland on Sept 1, 1939. We are obsessed with control and power.

     The flagrant use of power to annihilate an entire people has been the way of the world for millenia. In our day this tendency has been enhanced through the development of technologically advanced weapons of mass destruction. There seems to be no limit to our invention of more sophisticated weaponry to kill each other.

     How ARE Jesus followers across this planet to respond to these atrocieties? My thots… .

1.      Pray for Vladimer Putin. He needs to come under the authority of Christ just like the rest of us.

2.      Given what I’ve written above, pray this war doesn’t develop into WWIII.

3.      Anger at this war is right. This mass destruction of life and property is wrong before God.

4.      Seek to send aid to those caught up in this milieu. Especially those displaced. Or who mourn.

5.      Become a practical advocate of peace wherever your sphere of influence.

6.      God’s Church in Ukraine is doing so much to care for those whose lives have been shattered. Support them in any way you can. [Here is one example.]

7.      Be assured our God reigns, even if it does not seem so at the moment. Never loose sight of that. 

     Many times throughout human history it has seemed that the wrath of Hell has enveloped our world. So is God still in control? Absolutely. But because our ancestors brought evil into this world it will remain until Christ returns to end it. God help us all.

     In the mean time, we are responsible to correct as many ills and evils of humanity as possible. Yes, this war is a terrible thing. But only God honoring men and women can bring the peace of Christ to end it.

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— A surprise!

Growing Moldy

   Being molded by God is not the most pleasant thing in the world; though it is necessary if we are ever to be useful to the God Who made us. Our Lord is shaping us for…, whatever.

     Often I ask people, Christian and otherwise, “What is God designing you for in the next phase of your life?” Some people don’t think God has anything to do with their life. I tell them “I hope you’re right.” And I walk away bewildered at their blindness. There’s just too much evidence that God is molding us, whether we acknowledge it or not.

     If our Christian life will become what we want it to be; we will not grow into what our Lord wants us to be. And…, we will become moldy, yucky Christians— not molded by our Lord. Just moldy.

     Moldy Christians do little more than turn a whole Body into a festering infection on their surrounding church of believers. Yuck!

     And they are not easy to identify or get rid of. You can identify them as they talk a good talk but do little to bolster and build up those around them. Avoid them.

     Mold. Wrong kind.

     Make sure you are the kind of Christian who builds up others, who brings peace and forgiveness wherever you go. Someone who comforts and cares for those who mourn. Especially those who do not know Him.

     What our world needs, desperately, are people who bring the arms of Jesus to wrap around those in pain.

     What our world needs are genuine followers of Christ that embody kindness, love, acceptance, and honesty.

     Moldy Christians do not feel like Jesus. We feel like inconsequential Christians. All of us Need to be a little more like Jesus…, a little less like me. [Thank you Zach Williams.] Yes, even within our own quirky personalities.

     Finally, please, do NOT turn into one of those finger pointing, judgemental Christians we all hear about. We are being shaped to be healers, comforters, mourners, partiers, and worshipers. Servants.

     Please, become who God is forming you to be…,  not some pathetic little mass of pity and complaint who no one wants to be around. Moldy Christians are neither attractive, or life-giving.

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

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Ukraine

Letting God Mold You

     “Get your hands off my life!”

     Most of us love to learn. Not all subjects, but we narrow down what we like and don’t like. [Math is something that has always driven me crazy.] We love to be taught by people who care about us and know what they are talking about.

     But I would go so far as to declare that most of us do not like to be told what to do. [Yes, even in the military. Get used to it.] Remember the first time you crossed your parents and found out that your actions had consequences?!?

     Being a Christian isn’t all freedom and forgiveness and we go our merry way. It’s not just about obeying God’s Law either. Think The 10 Commandments and all the other stuff.

     It’s about letting God mold you into what He needs you to be in this present time and in your particular situation. He did not merely draw you to Himself. He created you to fulfill a role in the great scheme of things—  The Great Dance!

     I think our Lord gets quite sad and disappointed when we choose to clutter our time with the little things, the trivial, the sidebars of our lives.

     Being sculpted by God is no simple task. First, He has to mix up our clay a little bit differently, making sure there are no sinister pockets hiding deep within. He has to make sure our clay is of the right consistency and cohesion able to withstand the more severe times of His hands supplanting ours.

     In my own time on the Potter’s Wheel it also seemed that there was a good degree of heat generated. I think the Lord found my substance to be a bit resolute, fighting the shape He was forcing me into. Grrrr. In the end it turned out that the problem was with me. I didn’t want to be shaped into His Image. I was just fine with my own image, thank you. I think most of us are just fine with our own selves, just the way we are.

     For the most part, though, I do not believe our own selves are all that pleasing to the God who wants to shape us to be so much more. Do you think you measure up? Me neither. How can we reject such goodness to settle for just our own stuff?!?

     Most normal people, and too many Christians, don’t like God dictating what they should and should not do. It’s unAmerican! It’s an insult to our discernment and judgement.   What… we don’t know what’s best for us?

In Christ our Lord,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Growing moldy  

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  

Power to Overcome Ourselves

One of our greatest struggles in life is with ourselves. We let our moods, our disappointments, our life-situations defeat us in the most devastating ways.

     Friends or spouses try to help, but we rebuff their efforts. It is almost as if we want to wallow in our sadness, our forlorn isolation, our despair.

     Seriously, what is wrong with us?!?

     Well, that’s the whole point, isn’t it. We have lost ourselves and our definers of who we are. Worse, we have never thought about who we are. One foot in front of the other. Do the next thing. One foot in front of the other.

     Most of us have been there. Some of us are still there. We can’t seem to get past square ONE. Sadly, there are some of us who don’t want to face ourselves. Too many regrets, too many failures. “I’ll never overcome myself.” So we get stuck in the vicious currents of our own self-fulfilling prophesies. [Or, we give in and let our depression govern who we are and how we act.]

     “I can’t.” becomes our mantra. How about we go for “I can!”

     Inner fears are the hardest to overcome. Fear of failure, of rejection, fear of not being approved. Nobody sees these, but they are there. Sometimes just below the surface, waiting to crack…, or explode.

     Where can we find the power to overcome these demons?

     You do not have the power within you to defeat this. It is outside you. It comes from the source of your being— the God Creator Jesus Christ.

     May I sugest that you need to do is get %#&! mad at yourself. You were NOT designed to be like this. Do not turn to drugs, drink, or sex; but to a friend who will fortify your resolve and help you get you out of that pit.

     Second, create an activity what you really enjoy and get into it. [Unless it’s bank robbing.] For me, that’s writing books, posts, and articles that challenge people in their lives, or getting up high, above 14,000’.

     Third, get outside your misery. Adopt a new sport, learn to make kielbasa. In my depression when I was in graduate school I learned to play guitar. Surprised myself.

     Finally, find a genuine Christian who knows how to love people. You don’t need judgement, condemnation, or more “helpful” advice. YOU NEED A FRIEND. Hopefully, that person will help you untangle the threads of God woven throughout your life. I still struggle with this battle.

     We were created to be Whole Persons, not whining little creatures who let every attack or rejection plunge us into the spiral to the pit.

Why are you in despair, o my soul?

… and why have you become disturbed within me?

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him

For the help of His presence.

     Fight Hell and fight like hell! Just so you know, this is still a battle for me.  

In Christ our Lord,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT—  still thinking about it. 

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

Being a Christian in a postChristian context

If you do not know that we are in a postChristian world, please crawl out from under your rock. Even Pauxatawney Phil crawled out a couple days ago and supposedly saw his shadow, [I, for one, do not believe he could have clawed his way through 3’ of ice hard snow to see anything. Except more snow.]

 First we doubt God exists. Then we question whether Jesus is actually, or fully, God. Then we believe ALL religion is a fabricated fantasy of human. So, what are we left with? We proclaim that we, mankind, are the creator and ruller of all the universe.

 But, seriously, when we remove God, especially a God-Creator, from the equation, what else, beside aliens, is left but…— us?!?

 Very few people have any sense of a need for forgiveness, restoration, new life, or vibrant living. Some, just want to get by. Others, want to stay below the radar. But there are those who strive for success, only to find it somewhat satisfying. They are all, or some, of the finest people in the world. But they are lost within themselves, with no safety hook to give them an anchor.

 How much they need genuine, loving, transparent Christians in their lives is incomprehensible. Jesus said we are the light of the world. If ever there were a time when we who follow our Lord need to come alongside of successful/silent people in this world, it is Now.

 Do we merely need to express our faith in an updated flavor past the 1950s one-size-fits-all? Again, move the Groundhog aside and crawl out of your cave. It’s 2022. NOT 1922, or 1970. How do people hear the Christian message today? And, do you really know what “the Gospel” actually is?!? Tell me. Tell me so a truly clueless postChristian can understand it in their context.

 Better yet, ask a genuine “normal” person what they think Christianity is all about. You will be unpleasantly surprised. FYI, most of us never bother to ask. We just start in with our speil.

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Being alone

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