The Whiskey Chronicles 22 – Ships passing in the night

 I once gave my wife a greeting card of two ships passing in the night. In reference to our busy lives, the inside simply read We’re like two ships passing in the bathroom. Too true.

     Applying this to our interactions with normal people we are much the same. Too many of us are simply oblivious to their need for our Lord. Oh, we know it to be true on a mental level; but that doesn’t often translate to a personal level. We are ships passing in the night.

     We spend our lives with people who have increasingly less and less comprehension of the Christian message of salvation, faith, and forgiveness than at any other time in modern history. In a sense we have entered a new Dark Ages for the Christian faith.

     It is true that most people reject the Christian faith. But now they reject it out of ignorance more than out of understanding. They do not reject the salvation of Christ out of disagreement; rather, they simply ignore it. We just do not take the time to understand their world enough to explain our faith to them in a format that they can understand and respond to.

     It rests on us to do the hard work of giving our message a context. Some of the areas we must consider are— language, reference points, past inaccuracies, trust, prior knowledge, prior misinformation, bad experiences with other believers, sad experience in the church.

       Then again, we constantly explain the facts of our faith without couching it in love. This is not the gospel. The offering of our Lord to someone always needs His embracing love as its cradle. Calling a person to repentance must have a framework of forgiveness. Why would anyone repent if there were no offering of forgiveness? Beheading certainly does not encourage one to repent.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©

Gary

NEXT— no need for religion, or Christ

Web: www.cluelessChristianity.org

The Whiskey Chronicles 21 – Inaccurate, Inappropriate, & Unintelligible

       One of the issues I have with our Christian message is that it too often comes across as inaccurate, inappropriate, and unintelligible. The general problem in Europe, Asia, China, South Africa, Canada, and the United States is that our message is being presented in such a manner that it does not relate to the normal peoples of these cultures. We are religious freaks to most normal people. All of us.

       And we speak a language that is totally unintelligible to them. We tell them that they are sinners; and that has no point of reference for them. Hitler, maybe; but not us.

       And we choose the most inappropriate times to bring up our faith and their lack of faith. [Birthday parties and celebrations are NOT the time.] Seriously, who do we think we are?!? We just don’t get it!

       Then our understanding of their life and world is, for the most part, completely out-of-touch. We make assumptions about what non-Christians believe, the way they live, and what they think of us without ever asking them directly. We hold an inaccurate estimation of our pagan brothers & sisters that adds to the rift between us. Thus, my position of the importance of a dram of Single Malt Scotch. [More on that later.]

       We need to make more of an effort to walk in their world, in their successes and struggles, than we have been. Without Judgement! God is their Judge. We are not. We are their fellow beggar telling them where we have found bread.

       At the very least, we should walk alongside them, in the gutter, in the Board Room, in the prison, in the restaurant, in the supermarket, in our neighborhoods. This is imperative.

       Our job is not only to point them to our Lord. It is to be their companion as we travel the road together.

       Learn their language. Do not judge it. Listen to their struggles. Do not judge them. Hold their hearts in your hands. Do not crush them. Celebrate like crazy with them wherever we can! Do not hold back.

       And invite them into your lives, into your struggles and celebrations. Be REAL with people. Kill the nice Christian façade.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! 

Gary

NEXT— we are like ships passing in the night— our constant mindset

New Years 2023

New Years Eve by the Fire

       It’s late. I’m sitting by the fire next to our Christmas Tree remembering so much of the good, the bad, and the ugly of this past year.

       I entered 2022 with a final radiation treatment for cancer. A year later, it seems that I’ve beat it. Praise God!

       In many ways I have new eyes to see. Not just new lenses in my eyes, but personal/spiritual eyes as well.

       Our Lord has been honing and refining me through extended times with Him. A lot of my arrogance-of-accomplishment has been ripped away; polishing continues. My personality has also been tempered to become more like Christ’s. We extroverts have a tough time with that.

       One thing that has helped with that is Christmas. Every year, especially in these recent years, the miracle of Christmas— that the God of the Universe would take the form of a helpless baby to be born to a 16 year old out-of-wedlock Jewish girl, in a backwater town in an insignificant Roman province in an era with little considerable technology, is still a miracle to me.

       I had become a Christian after trying to live various philosophies of life when I was in college. To say I was a basket case would have been obvious. For two years I struggled to find any other explanation of life, save the Christian one. But the only belief system, the only existential, reasonable I constantly returned to was Christianity. Thus, 60 years later, it is the only adequate faith I have found that fits reality best. Wow!

       So as you and yours enter 2023, inspect your faith. Does it answer life’s most difficult questions? Does assist you in making daily decisions? Does it provide you with a basic rubric for living? Is it still reasonable? Reliable? Realistic?

       Have you updated your faith to meet the challenges our culture today? Or are you still in the same ‘ol, same ol’ format of faith formed for the late 1940s and early 1950s?

       These are the meanderings of my mind as I welcome in 2023. What a fantastic way to start a new year! Do with them what you will. I’m going to bed.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023!

Gary & Starr

 www.cluelessChristianity.org

Image Credit-  Gary Davis

The Whiskey Chronicles 21 – Foreign Concepts

Formerly, most Christian communication was based on common ground. People had a basic comprehension of the Christian faith that we relied upon in presenting our gospel to them. That is no longer the case.

         It’s wiser in our era to assume that people, in America and worldwide, have little to NO understanding of the basic tenets of the Christian worldview. We have lost our voice to those around us. We are no longer seen as part of the solution; we are considered part of the problem.

         Many of my friends think our world would be better off if all Christians would just go away.

      Over the last 50 years western culture has seen the introduction, the invasion, of foreign concepts to the general public. Our universities, once closely tied to our faith, have turned their backs on Christian beliefs. If anything, Christianity is mocked and dismissed in schools of “higher learning.”

      Personally, I like having all these foreign concepts welling up from the grass roots. But too many Christians still cling to that ol’ time religion, the way it used to be, semi-annual revival meetings, the simple gospel, etc. If it is true, that 85.33% of our world is considered Developing Nations then the same percentage still needs our Christian message on their level. But for the other 15% of wealthy, dominant countries, our gospel must be couched in a format and language appropriate to their level of society.

      For that culture, our culture, we must offer an intelligent, well formulated Christian message that considers the hodgepodge of foreign concepts that our society has been exposed to. The simple gospel communicates little to nothing to this postmodern, postChristian world.

      We cannot offer a Third World gospel to a postChristian humanity.

      I gave my wife Starr a greeting card with two ships passing in the night on the cover. We didn’t have enough time for each other. The inside of the card simply read— We’re like two ships passing in the bathroom. Far too often we are like two faiths passing in our culture; one Christian, one totally unaware of who we are and what we believe. And in many ways our cocooning has lost any understanding of who they are in their own world as well.

      In postChristian America, as elsewhere, our rich faith has also become a foreign concept within our society. WE are the outsiders trying to break through the barriers that surround us.

FINAL THOUGHTS

1.       Get to know your healthy pagan neighbors.

2.       Go out with the boys (for that drink?) after work.

3.       SHUT UP! Listen.

4.       Play in their world.

5.       Use this Christmas to love on them.

6.       YOU throw the New Year’s Eve Party. Provide the Asprin.

7.       We need to love the hell out of these people. OK?!?

      Christianity has become the foreign voice in modern culture, worldwide. Get used to it. What we formerly designated as pre-Evangelism must now be incorporated into the context of what we are trying to say.

      Then again…, has it ever been otherwise?

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©

Gary

NEXT— inaccurate, inappropriate, or unintelligible information

The Whiskey Chronicles 19- Do Not Know ANY Genuine Christians

       One of the major issues normal people face is that they don’t know any genuine Christians. They may know some, but the Christians have not made their faith evident to them. Or, their faith is not evident to other people in general.

       Most normal people are not simply going to pick up a Bible and start reading. In our biblically illiterate society that could be disastrous They are more likely to be attracted to someone they believe is a Christian and talk with them about what they see. The problem we face today is that our Christian faith is not all that distinguishable. Christians do not readily talk about their faith. Many cannot even articulate it clearly.

       Too many Christians do not lead very Christian lives. We are not known for being a loving people. We are not known for being overly sacrificial, let alone giving freely to those in need.

       So, it has become somewhat difficult to identify the true Christians in our society.

       Then there are the caricatures of Christians we seem to have everywhere. I’ve met them: so have you. Sadly, so have many others who now want nothing to do with our faith because of them.

       What would be the marks of the genuine Christians within our society?

1.      Giving. Constantly! Everywhere and to as many people or services as possible…, and not just to Christians services. Paying someone’s mortgage/rent for a month.

2.      Feeding people. Constantly. Everywhere and to as many people as possible. Volunteering in Soup Kitchens is only the tip of the iceberg. Or should be. My wife makes a wicked chili con carne. I’ve perfected the art of grilling steaks. Any takers?

3.      Sheltering the homeless. Working in a Shelter. Founding a Shelter. Giving a homeless couple temporary housing where you live. OR, a couple nights in a motel in bitter cold weather.

4.      Having and making a guest room always available in your home/apartment.

5.      Performing daily acts of simple kindness.

6.      Being loving in ways that the other person feels loved. Sacrifice!

7.      Supporting causes that promote world peace and local reconciliation.

8.      Funding global hunger relief.

9.      Being mediators in our society and between people we know.

10.   Striving to give our message a context.

       People may not think that these activities and characteristics are sourced from Christian beliefs. That may take a good bit of verbal intercourse. But they will never seek our Lord without some of these demonstrations of Christ’s love for them being present.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©

Gary

NEXT— Fear & Disgust

The Whiskey Chronicles – Learning to Listen

One of the most difficult practices most of us forget is our need to listen. Most people will pour out their soul to you if we just give them a chance to speak. The problem at hand is that we want to get our point across, first. All of it.

       In education etiquette, and education theory, it is called testing-for-learning. A good communicator will always pause and ask Did that make sense to you?

       I have someone in my life who I call and he immediately starts talking…, about himself. How someone can start talking, seemingly without ever taking a breath, and never give the other person a space to talk is beyond me. His record is an hour forty minutes; then a So, how are you? I’m too exhausted to answer. Fine.

       Christians are just as guilty of this sin as many other people. We just keep talking, believing if we can fill the room with our point of view people will cave in to the gospel and its barrage of truths. Really.

       One of the key ingredients in communication, especially when explaining our gospel is an Italian principle I was reminded of from The Godfather movie franchise. Shut-up a you face! We need to shut-up and listen to the other person’s point of view.

       We may think we’ve gotten our point across clearly. But how do we know?!? Simple. ASK.

       This is not rocket-surgery. It is simply courtesy. Politeness. Showing interest. Learning.

       Do we trust God so little that we think we have to get His point of view across, presented in a complete logical-sequential package? There is a basic principle in Christian communication— Give God some room to work. We dare not ignore this principle in favor of our own words.

       So. Some suggestions.

1.      Our message is built on relationship. BUILD one as a context..

2.      Shut-up a you face.

3.      Ask questions.

4.      Give people a chance to think, to respond, at their own pace.

5.      Don’t cram the Gospel into someone’s life.

6.      Again, give God some room to work. We don’t have to seal-the-deal. That’s God’s work.

       Always keep in mind that the rich context for our words is LOVE. Do you actually love this person? Or is your love merely a pretense for their conversion? Not a good idea.

       Finally, remember that God is at work. If He is not at work, all our explanations and presentations will fall of dumb ears. He is the initiator and convincer of our faith. Follow Him into conversation. Look for the threads of God woven throughout a person’s life. He is probably at work in peoples’ lives long before we show up.

Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©

Gary

NEXT— No joy in life.

Road Map Here  

The Whiskey Chronicles 11- Facets of Faith

When Christians communicate our faith it is often in terms pieces of data. Facts transmitted as the core of what we believe. While the facts of our faith are critical they are not the underlying foundation. No.

       The underpinning of our faith lies in the actual person of Jesus Christ. To see Him as merely a man who dies on a cross to atone for our sins would be missing the point.

       The Christian faith is founded upon the entire life of Christ; how He lived, what He did with people, His surprising offers of forgiveness and restitution with God is where we can see the facets of our faith displayed beforehand in everything about Jesus.

       When He said I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly! (John 10:10.) He wasn’t kidding. It is sad that more people refuse His free offer of grace. In our present postChristian world there is barely even an understanding of what His life meant to us. He gave us LIFE! And too many of us refused it. Still do.

       I just don’t get it. The opportunity to have our rebellion against a Holy God obliterated is astonishing! Yet we refuse and clutch our own minuscule desires as if they are platinum. They are not.

       The facets of our faith are so much more than a simple summary of our faith. Our gospel should be a a glorious reflection of all that Christ was when He was with us. It is couched in His healing, His forgiveness, His compassion, and His passion.

       How we’ve come to offer His salvation in terms of acquiescence to simply a summary of data is a puzzle. Christ message of salvation is so much more than mere understanding. It is a heart/mind encounter that challenges our whole being.

       It is to experience His love and forgiveness in full. There are so many facets to becoming a Christian that any guide of how to become a Christian seems simply ludicrous to this writer.

       What about you? What do you think?

Loving God; loving people…, and bringing the two together! ©
Gary

NEXT— Is there a simple gospel?

Road Map Here

The Whiskey Chronicles 7 – The Gospel Re-Imagined

For almost 75 years we have used what is known as a problem-solving model of the gospel. You have a problem; we have a product that will solve your problem; buy our product; and your problem will be solved. Simple, straight-forward, and to the point.

       But what if a person doesn’t follow that line of reasoning? What if they are not so much a linear learning student, but a visual, or auditory, or kinesthetic learner? A four point, linear-sequential explanation of our message doesn’t communicate.

       The Christian Message in an illiterate society might better be communicated through storytelling, or art, or personal expression. The simple gospel simply isn’t that simple anymore. We need to learn to express Christ’s message of Redemption in different ways— not just one way. A visual gospel by culture. Verbal story telling. A gospel expressed in movements and shape and art.

       Then again, the forever-context for the gospel is love. Our message will never be understood unless it is covered in genuine love and graciousness.

       Still, the challenge remains— what would our message look like, feel like, sound like, if we moved it out of its linear explanations?

       Some years ago a young Ethiopian college student came to our home and asked if she could become a Christian. Why would you want to do that? Her reply? Because I’ve seen how you two love each other and I want what it is you have. Wow! The content (explanation) of the gospel followed its expression in the love she saw between Starr and me.

       Francis of Assisi is famous for giving us Preach the gospel everywhere you go, and, if necessary use words. He understood that the Christian faith is more than merely words. And its expression must be more than meager words. It must be expressed and received in the mindset of each individual, in their culture.

       We need to become keen observers of the world around us. Of the people around us. We have never lived in a monolithic society. To assume so would be naïve on our part. So it would be amiss to assume that anyone can understand the gospel in our cultural context. They need to understand it in their context.

       We must re-imagine the gospel in the contexts of the various peoples and cultures around us. One size no longer, and never has, fit all. We are probably more diverse now than at any other time in human history.

       Let’s reframe our message so it can be grasped by more people in more ways. Multicultural.

       And cradled always in the arms of love.

Loving God; loving people…, and bringing the two together!

Gary

NEXT— No Other Name!

More Tired

Photo by Marco Verch

In this sequel I want to raise the question— How can we fight this ceaseless exhaustion? This is no longer a Western problem. It’s worldwide. The Japanese are notorious for being workaholics; so now the rest of the world has stepped in line right behind them. We are ALL working our fingers to the bone.

       I’ve found some things that have worked for me I’d like to pass along to you. I hope they help. (I know this sounds like I am asking you to DO MORE. But this is not the purpose of the following list. It is a call to FOCUS. Who do you need to be as followers of Christ in this increasingly fracturing world?]

       Sooooo…

1.      Care about something. Anything. Deeply.

2.      Care passionately! All talk and no action isn’t good for any of us.

3.      Instill your passion in others. You won’t get very far taking it on alone.

4.      Join local and national communities that share your passion.

5.      Focus…, but be open to learn, to change.

6.      READ about the broad field of issues facing our nation and our world.

7.      What weapons will you need to overcome this lethargy?

       For me it’s always been about passion. When I was trudging through my dissertation, I came across a quote by Georg Wilhelm Friedrick Hegel [1770 – 1831].

Nothing great in the world

Has ever been accomplished

Without passion.  

I am a visual-kinesthetic. Doctoral dissertations are linear-sequential. I was very passionate about what I was writing. There were many times I simply wanted to give up. But I didn’t. Passion carried me through.

       We each have only so much time to address the agonies of our world. What will you tackle? When will you get started.?  Now would be a good time… .

       Now go take a nap to get ready!

Honor God, honor people, Make a difference!

Gary

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