everest15 Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
 (ESV)

     O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? This is the question for which we have sought an answer over the past five weeks. For this last installment considering the solutions raised in Psalm 15, I’d like to zoom in on the last phrase— He who does these things shall never be moved.

      The only other place in the Bible that this phrase is used is in 2 Peter 1:10. “For if you do these things, you will never stumble,” Is the implication in both places that we shall never sin…, again? No. Never stumble, never move, yes. For our primary focus in life is set on the mind of Christ and what He desires for our lives.

      Then again, look back over the previous solutions in both sections, Psalm 15 and 2 Peter 1-10. I do try to live up to these solutions and to put them into practice. They form a great code to live by. Do I often come to a place where I have attained this level of commitment to God? Not exactly. How about not even close.

      Two of the things I’ve always cherished about our Christian faith are (1) that the goals of pleasing God are always just beyond my reach, giving me something to aspire to. The other thing (2) is that our faith in Christ provides us with a direct access to God the Father with no prerequisites or conditions to approach Him. He is simply there for us— as a father, a friend, a deliverer, a place of safety, or rest. He is also there when we need a swift kick in the butt.

      Remember the story of the Footprints in the sand? When the traveler saw only one set of footprints Jesus explained those were the times when He carried us. In my case, and maybe in yours, that’s not the case. For me, when only one set of footprints were there, Jesus explained that they were the times when He dumped me into the surf and said Sink or swim, buddy!

      Our Christian journey is a constant warp & woof between being buoyed along in the arms of our Savior and learning to stand on our own in the struggles with the darkness that is in this world. May we have the wisdom to understand the difference and proceed with discernment…, and decisiveness.

      Never shaken, never moved.

Honour God, honour people, make a difference,

Gary
Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Disruptive Technologies & Innovation

Making the Cut-Keeping an Oath

hands-joined-pinky-finger15 Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

      Swearing an Oath. Some years ago, my wife and I attended a wedding. during the reception, the father of the bride turned to us and said, “It doesn’t matter. We all know the words [vows] don’t mean anything anymore.”

      My wife and I were both dumbfounded and yet not surprised. We live in a twenty-first century culture where oaths, vows, and commitments are taken quite casually. Beyond this, a lie is only a lie if you are caught lying; otherwise, you merely “misspoke.” Hum!

      Even before I became a Christian, when I was more of a politically radical, Moral Therapeutic Deist, I understood that vows and oaths meant more than casual convenient commitments. To be sure, sometimes those commitments turned out to be terribly bad decisions. Thus, the inauguration of the legal profession.

      But if anyone seeks to stand in the presence of God he swears to his own hurt and does not change.

      We need to seek the counsel of the wise in our lives to lower the risk level of our far-too-often impetuous commitments. You’ve made them, I’ve made them; and we all live with the consequences, sometimes for the rest of our lives.

      So what is this call to commitment really all about? Simply put, it is about sacrifice. When we devote ourselves to a particular path it usually requires surrendering certain other obligations and allegiances. If we dedicate ourselves to God, it will require moving away from some relationships and extraneous pursuits so that we can focus on this new commitment and what it entails.

      Sacrifice and commitment go hand in hand.

      Let your yes be Yes, and your no be No. [Matt. 5:37.] Undergird it with much prayer, fasting, counsel, and a serious sense of sacrifice. There are no cutesy pinky-swears.

      Sounds simple enough. Right!

Honour God, honour people, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Making the Cut:  never shaken, never moved.

Psalm 15-Slander and Evil

skull-demonic-fingers-satan-1565457-pxhere.com
15 Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
     [He] who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
      How often does my heart turn to the dark side? To inwardly seek revenge, retribution, retaliation?!? Years after claiming Christ’s grace as my own I still seek to lord something over another, to seek my own pleasure, to gain notice for success. I, who claim to be in service of the God most high, still seek a place in the sun. How often have we spoken in a derogatory way about our fellow Christians? How often have we questioned the integrity of others just to look good ourselves?
      God forgive me. And us.
      O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?  Who indeed! Our world calls this slander, and there is no place for it among us. Confession is good for more than just the soul. It is good all the way ‘round.
      Our neighbors, likewise, deserve our respect and protection. When Starr and I lived in Amherst, MA, we knew all our neighbors, so did our kids. Everyone had a key to everyone else’s house; we shared a community 22’ ladder, show blowers, power washers, tillers, ropes, and garden vegetables. And there were no fences. Where we live now is all fences. Building our community takes a little more work, but we’re getting there.
      This pandemic has provided us with great opportunities to serve those around us. How could we ever do evil to those we love who live next door? Still, I understand not all neighborhoods are like ours; but we could try to make them that way.
      A reproach against a friend enforces the previous two phrases to mark the seriousness of accusing someone of a serious deed. If this happens to you, there better be an uncontestable proof that the criticism is true. If it is true, own up to your failures. If it is not, you must stand your ground and rebuke your accuser. Gently, quietly.
      Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? Indeed! Certainly few. By the qualifiers set forth so far, none of us would make the cut. But thanks be to God! All has been provided for us through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ!
      Unlike every other religion in the world, our God has provided a way for us to approach Him without proving ourselves. He paid the price for our rebellion and rejection of His rule over our lives. HE is our provision at the entrance way of heaven, to be received by our Father!
      Welcome home, son. Welcome home, daughter.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
 
Gary
Dr. Gary Davis, President
NEXT– Making the Cut

Define Blameless, Psalm 15

large-inmate-get-out-of-jail-free-card15 Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart.

      Throughout history we have refined the blame-game into a glorious art-form. She did it! The devil made me do it! It’s not my fault. That’s right. Blame the other guy. He did it.

      There is, however, a way out of this insidious cycle.

  1. Walk blamelessly.
  2. Do what is right.
  3. Be honest with yourself.

Let’s look at these three solutions more in depth.

      Walk Blamelessly. Easily said; not so simply accomplished. On the surface it means we cannot enter the blame-game; on a deeper level it is a challenge to live life as morally pure. Not morally pure as possible, morally pure.  None of us can do that, even with Christ’s forgiveness. Since the first humans, our nature is to cut across God’s perimeters of protection for us and to do what we want.

      Fortunately, God has provided us a GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card through Christ’s sacrifice for our rebellion on the cross. We are forgiven.

      Do what is Right. There is a line in the Jack Ryan movie series, in Clear and Present Danger, when Harrison Ford confronts a fellow senior government official and yells, “No! It’s right or it’s wrong!” If God’s Truth has been inscribed on our hearts since Creation then every human being is accountable before Him to do what is right. We know that. Social Anthropologists aside, we know. Now let’s DO IT.

      Be honest with yourself. This is the most difficult thing to do before a Holy God. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we deserve nothing from our Creator; no blessing, no honor, no forgiveness, certainly no heaven.

      The question has never been “How could a loving God send anyone to hell?” Quite to the contrary, “Why should a loving & just God let anyone into His heaven?” If you don’t get this then you’ve created God in your own image, instead of the other way around.

      Thankfully, there’s Jesus. In a synagogue in Nazareth, where He was raised, He read from Isaiah (ch.42)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…”

      This is what He has done for us. Shouldn’t we at least try to do what He asks in Psalm 15?

Walk blamelessly, do what is right, be honest with yourself,
Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President
NEXT— Making the Cut: … slander & evil

We have forgotten God- A reminder from Cal Thomas

forgotten God

I came across this article by columnist Cal Thomas in our Colorado Springs Gazette, published last August. Although this pestilence that has recently been released upon us bears little resemblance to the American civil war, its rapid spread has killed more than 10,000 Americans in the last three months.  Abraham Lincoln’s response to the number of deaths (almost 1,800,000 combined; more than any other war in our history) was to call our nation to a Day of Humiliation, Prayer, and Fasting.

  Given the loss of genuine Christian influence on our government and countrymen today this Proclamation would seem somewhat inappropriate in our time. But it is worth remembering.

  Cal Thomas’ article is reprinted here in its entirety.

“Politicians and pundits are promoting familiar explanations, excuses, and demands following the tragic mass murders in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. From pushing more gun laws to blaming President Trump, conservative talk radio and Fox News, we’ve heard it all before.

“One question no one is asking: why is evil rampant in our country? I don’t mean obvious evil like the all too frequent mass murders. There are other evils, which seem to have come from the “pit” and are roaming among us uncontrolled.

“We seem to tolerate everything these days and oppose controlling what once was called evil behavior. Bad behavior is now considered good and good behavior is thought to be bad. Those who practice good behavior are often labeled with words that end in “-phobe.” Politicians and pundits are promoting familiar explanations, excuses, and demands following the tragic mass murders in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. From pushing more gun laws to blaming President Trump, conservative talk radio and Fox News, we’ve heard it all before.

“One question no one is asking: why is evil rampant in our country? I don’t mean obvious evil like the all too frequent mass murders. There are other evils, which seem to have come from the “pit” and are roaming among us uncontrolled.

“We seem to tolerate everything these days and oppose controlling what once was called evil behavior. Bad behavior is now considered good and good behavior is thought to be bad. Those who practice good behavior are often labeled with words that end in “-phobe.” Societal norms have been undermined. Normal is what individuals think is true for them.

“If this sounds like a sermon, maybe that’s what we need to hear. Revivalist preachers knew how to deliver them. Start with Jonathan Edwards’ classic “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” His main point was that individual sinners and nations must repent and ask God’s forgiveness in order to escape judgment and national destruction.

“Consider Abraham Lincoln’s “sermon” to the nation. On March 30, 1863, Lincoln issued a Proclamation for a Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer because of the Civil War, which was tearing America apart. This passage contains a message for us [today]:

“‘And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

“Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn reached a similar conclusion when he considered how communism had managed to dominate his native Russia for seven decades. In his 1983 Templeton Prize address, Solzhenitsyn said: “More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’

“Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process, I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.'”

“These men were on to something. Blaming others hasn’t worked. We’ve tried that and more. Why not try God?”

      ‘Nough said.

[Cal Thomas, a columnist with Tribune Content Agency. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.]

This article appeared in the Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 8 August 2019.

Gary
Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Making the Cut: Psalm 15 revisited

Prayer from The Lutheran Prayer Book

empulse lutherIN TIME OF PESTILENCE.

    O Lord God, the giver of our health, it is only of thy mercy that we have so much health continued after the manner in which we have lived. And oh how just were it with thee utterly to take away that health from us which we have so greatly abused, to a forgetfulness of thee and wantonness against thee!

    How justly mightest thou smite us with sharp and noisome diseases, which our nature most abhorreth; to hurry us out of the land of the living, and put a sorrowful end to our wretched days! But, O thou Hope of Israel, the Savior thereof in time of trouble, regard not our ill-deserts; but remember thy own tender mercies and gracious promises; and take pity on us, and turn away this plague from us.

        Put a stop to the raging pestilence, and say to the destroying angel, “It is enough;” that we may not be afraid of the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flies by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday: but, with calmness in our minds and gladness in our hearts, may serve thee faithfully and cheerfully all our days, and devote our spared lives, which we have begged at thy hands, and our health and every mercy, to thy honor and glory, through the strength and the righteousness of thy dear Son, our most compassionate and prevailing Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

~Benjamin Kurtz, The Lutheran Prayer Book of 1860

      This prayer in times of pestilence should need no further clarification. “Nough said.” Nonetheless, forgive me if I engage your minds a bit further.

      The times were not that different in the 1860s than they are today. Japan was experiencing enormous changes as their Meiji Restoration reshaped society. In Latin America, the Paraguayan War was the bloodiest in the region’s history. The American Civil War raged from 1861-1865 brought death on both sides (North/South) with the introduction of mechanized weaponry. Malaria plagued the construction of the Suez Canal, killing thousands. These were perilous times in the world, as they are today.

      This Coronavirus is devasting our ways of life. With over 1,000,000 cases worldwide, and almost 60,000 deaths worldwide, this is a major pandemic the likes of which we have not seen in a century. We are ALL affected by it. It is time we give ourselves to wisdom in our actions and prayer in our spirits.

      The attitude of this prayer pointed true Christians to look to Jesus’ tender mercies and gracious promises. It pleaded to Put a stop to the raging pestilence and say It is enough! And then called us to neither be afraid of the terror by night nor the arrow that flies by daybut with calmness in our minds and gladness in our hearts, may we serve thee faithfully and cheerfully all our days.

      Would to God that this could be our manner and mindset today.

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

NEXT— Making the Cut: Psalm 15

What’s happened to us?  You OK?   

gary pikes peak      So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

 [1 Thessalonians 2:8  (ESV)]

      Starr and I wonder how you are? We pray for you far more than you might imagine. It’s what we do. These are difficult days we live in. Our new normal. My first shock in this era of COVID19 was all the hoarding that stripped our shelves of just about everything. Then, there was the blatant disregard for public safety. REALLY!?!

      On one hand, people huddle within their homes as if waiting for the end to come…, for other people. Others, by contrast, seek out whom they can help in practical, yet safe, ways. Now, everything’s closed.

      So, my question to you is— What can we do for you? Do you need anything we can provide? Our Lord seems to grant us everything we need. What can we pass along to you?

      FYI, Starr and I are self-isolating at home, only to venture out to replace groceries and gas. Over this past week she painted our living room and dining rooms. (Yes, I worked with her.) I am re-writing (again) my next book, When There’s Nothing Left: the art of recovering your soul. A book on escaping depression. … and writing better (?) EMPulse blogs. Probably starting a new series next week.

      Starr continues to read her British mystery novels at least one a week); while I am reading one new book— David Kinnaman’s Faith for Exiles and rereading one old one— Dante Alighieri’a The Divine Comedy. It’s a good balance for me.

      In the evenings we come together for the Anglican Order for Compline— a way of wrapping up our day by focusing on Christ.

      And, of course, we get out each day to hike! Starr heads up to the Homestead Trail in Cheyenne Canyon where she can put in a good mile or five: I head up to Palmer Park where I huff & puff through one or two. We both sleep very well, thank you.

      We serve, too. For those in dire distress we deliver a six pack of toilet paper, or steaks, or some Single Malt Scotch. For those who are not in such dire straights we send harassing emojis in texts or pray with them over the phone. [See our tagline below.]

      Again, this is no laughing matter. Starr and I want to thank you for making our days a little lighter. We will continue to do what we can for those around us and in our worldwide internet family.

      Be safe, live graciously, and always with a view of loving those around you, especially those who have no hope in Jesus Christ.

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

Dr. Gary Davis, President

what’s happened to us? fear of engaging

gambar-1-27      Fear of engaging. Maybe it goes back to some fear in our childhood? Or to the Silent Generation, who could barely say anything after witnessing the horrors of the Second World War.

      One of the reasons our evangelical world first developed four-point gospel outlines (1949) was literally to put words into the mouths of those who could barely speak, or just simply didn’t want to talk anymore. It was truly a silent time in our land. [Coincidentally, the phrase daily quiet time also emerged at this time.] Or our silence could have been a result of the McCarthy investigations into possible Communist sympathizers. This laid the groundwork for the Cold War of the 50s–60s.

      Today, in 2020, Christians in the West still have difficulty, if not blatant fear, of engaging the world around us. We might not know what to say. We might not know the answers to their questions. We don’t know how to lead them to Christ. Worse yet, we may not know even one normal person (read non-Christian) to engage. We just have no point of contact with normal people in a religious way.

      So we unconsciously huddle within our Christian cultures fearing any significant contact with the World. We are afraid of being tainted, tempted, or taunted. But we do not find any of this in the New Testament.

      Instead, we find Jesus’ disciples transformed by the renewing of the Holy Spirit, bold to declare His deity and saving grace in the face of severe opposition, even unto death.

      What’s happened to us? Too many of the Christians I know are clueless when is comes to engaging anyone with the gospel of Christ. We steer clear of those conversations at all costs. Allow me to offer five ideas on how you can follow our Lord into people’s lives.

  1. Relax. Let the Spirit open doors for His witness. No need to tense up.
  2. Remember God is in control. You do not have to be. Nor do you have to get thru some pre-scribed gospel outline. Respond naturally using your heart and your mind.
  3. Place yourself in the midst where normal people gather. This may take some creativity while we’re in this COVID19 self-isolation period.
  4. Fall in love with people. The command to love hasn’t seemed to sink in. I find more meaning if we connect with people as if we’re in love with them, looking forward to our next meeting.
  5. Give God some room to work. Our job is to show up, be there, and love creatively.

      Our God is so full of surprises. Enjoy yourself and watch Him work.

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

Dr. Gary Davis, President

What’s Happening to Us? Time Alone

861750526_640x360  In this technological age, very few of us get the time alone we need. We neglect relationships and people in favor of time online with media, games, shopping, researching, reading, learning, and plain ol’ WEB-trolling. If things at home are difficult, we tend to immerse ourselves in work: if things at work are unpleasant, we run late, or are sick a lot. We fill our lives with entertainment and escape to avoid the harsh realities in which we move.

     With our present Coronavirus, Covid19 Pandemic our local, state, and federal governments are intentionally enforcing time alone. While a cure is being sought, we have switched to a defensive posture of confinement to curb the spread of this widespread disease.

     The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 – 1919 killed between 20-40 million lives worldwide. In America more than 675,000 died. This present coronavirus is ten times as lethal as the influenza of 100 years ago. Our present options are middling at best— isolate…, and wait for a breakthrough.

     So, what are we to do with all this alone-time forced upon us? Here are some options—

  1. Stay healthy! Eat healthy foods. Maintain some balance of exercise and rest. 10 minutes a day.
  2. Get to know yourself again. What are the really important issues you need to think about? Journal?
  3. Get to know your family again. Board games. Seriously.
  4. Serve others. Care for people who can’t or won’t go out.
  5. Be an Encourager. Pray over the phone with people. Send e-cards, bad jokes, emojis.
  6. Do not hoard. This is crazy people. Instead, share your resources. Especially toilet paper.
  7. We are all going to have to trust in God more…, even atheists. Ultimately, He is the one in control.
  8. Use wisdom and caution in all you do.
  9. Gather in small groups. Food. Movies in. Worship.
  10. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Our God is full of surprises… .

     For some of us, time alone is the norm. For others, not so much. We are all experiencing this COVID19 pandemic differently. Many lives will be lost. Maybe even yours. Get your affairs in order and your relationship with God in a safe, forgiven, restored place.

     These are the times when genuine followers of Christ can make a great difference in peoples’ lives.

     One final thought— think of giving the gift of toilet paper to your friends & neighbors.

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

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— What’s happened to us?  Fear of engaging

What’s happening to us?

paradigm-shift2

     If you haven’t noticed, the Western world is in the midst of another paradigm shift. This time from a modern, scientifically verifiable facts, to a  postmodernpostChristian view of reality that is not related to facts or history or consents to “Ultimate Truth.” They say there is no such thing. How can they know that?

     Of course, I truly hope the people who designed this 737, and those that built it, were not so inclined but adhered to the laws of physics and flight…, especially the landing part.

     Most of us live in a world that relies on the dependability of continuous change; that is, new things are usually predicated on earlier ideas or inventions. But in a paradigm shift we experience an occurrence of discontinuous change. The NEW things are not connected to the past in any way. The automobile had as much to do with horse transportation as our smart phones have to do with landlines.

     The expressions of the Christian faith are going through a time of discontinuous change in our society. Although we hear many Christians cry for the old-ways of the liturgical calendar and liturgical worship, the fact remains that the format of faith constructed in the 400s or 1700s is not designed to face the assaults of this postChristian sensibility in which we life.

     Still, other Christians today, decry the loss of our “old-time religion.” They tell us that today’s contemporary worship service, with its culturally affinitive music and come-as-you-are mentality is nearing its end. Really?!? Oddly, Paul in his missionary journeys never considered NOT adapting his style or methodology to each new situation. Read Acts! Read Paul’s Letters! Nor did the earliest missionaries to the Far East, or to the Vikings.

     The Christian message should always couched in the idioms and formats of the host culture. When we try to import 17th century European Christianity to other cultures if always backfires. And that includes the postmodern/postChristian landscape in which we find ourselves today.

     There was nothing particularly sacred about the 100s–400s. Although a lot of Christian beliefs and practices were established in that period. Nor was there anything sacred about the 17th century. Why do we constantly try to return to their expressions of faith as if they had something we do not!?!

     We have the privilege of formulating new, multifaceted expressions of our faith for this time, our peoples, and for a world more closely woven together. Let’s get at it!

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

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT disruptions & tenacity—  pass on, not out.