After Thoughts – Where do you feel safe?

For most of my adult life I have maintained that everyone needs a safe place, a safe activity, and a safe person as a basis for their lives. But there exceptions. Prison changes people; so does war.

       When we were children it was much simpler. We had our parents, or at least one of them, grandma, or our “Teddy.” For the most part our world was a safe place to live, learn, and be loved.

       As we grew into our teenage years it wasn’t quite the same. “Love” sometimes meant being hurt, disappointed, or betrayed. Decisions were more complicated. We didn’t have the experience to make them all that well. We made mistakes. We learned. Hopefully.

       In later years we learned we shouldn’t trust all people as naïvely or innocently as when we were younger. If there were any proof for evil in this world this is it— the loss of innocence.

       For Christians, this comes as a shock. Too often, those we looked up to, those we trusted, those we admired, turned out to be not quite as “safe” as we once thought. Betrayal in the Christian world seems far more venomous than in our secular relationships.

       It should not be this way.

       I know I’ve addressed this issue before but given the increasing violence in our culture it is time to take another look. So allow me to wrap back to our beginning.

·       Where is your safe place?

·       What is your safe activity?

·       Who is your safe person?

For a long time, my safe places have been the Galbraith lakehouse and these Colorado mountains. Both have provided a real solace for my soul. My safe activities have been working on my Volvos, and now, getting high into these beautiful mountains. I love living here. Other than my wife, Starr, I am not sure I have a safe person at the moment. Well, no. For 20 years now it would have to be my assistant Melanie. As I’ve often commented, my biggest fear in life is when Starr & Mel get together to discuss “me.”

       Jesus once said 28 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” [Matthew 11:28-29, NASB]

       Can any of us find anymore safety than can be found in Him? ©


NEXT— The Shower— Who am I supposed to be at this phase in my life?

After Thoughts — How do you decide what’s right & wrong?

You have to make a decision. But you can’t decide what would be a good decision and what would be a bad decision. What do you do?

       First you weigh the pros & cons of each side. What’s good for you: what’s not. What’s good for other people— that delivers the greatest good. But what if they’re even? I’d eliminate some of the lesser consequential pros or cons for a start.

       Then there are those decisions that don’t have a right or wrong. They involve the heart. You don’t want to make them. But they must be made somewhat soon. Here’s where your intuition factor comes into play. You don’t have enough data to make an adequately informed decision; yet it must be made.

       So now we move into the areas of personal track-record, of intuitive intuition, the hunch, the second-guess. Some of us have more of this, some of us, less. Ask a trusted friend to help.

       About 10-15 years ago many of the teens in our neighborhood were wearing rubber bracelets that read WWJD. What would Jesus do? Of course, our society quickly transmuted that to We want Jack Daniels. So what else is new? The point was that some people were consulting Jesus, maybe the Bible, to get some help making decisions.

       However, there is advice to be found in Proverbs 16:1-3—

To man belong the plans of the heart,

But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,

But the Lord weighs the motives.

Commit your works to the Lord,

And your plans will be established.

This poem conveys an overarching context for making decisions. First establish yourself within the perimeters of wisdom of our God. Then make your decisions.

       There is something to be said for founding your life and heart in following the precepts of our Lord that provides a framework for everything else. Not that all decisions will be easy, or have a context for consideration. But if your life is in alignment with our Creator’s precepts for living, then making a decision has walls of protection within which decisions will be undergirded with a history of other wise decisions.

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


NEXT— The Shower—Where do you feel safe?

After thoughts – What makes you…, You?

       WHAT MAKES YOU…, YOU? Let’s start with the obvious descriptors— heredity and environment. HEREDITY is what you are; conceived by your birth parents, with their genes, their propensities and personalities and proclivities. You are some of who they are, but not all.

       ENVIRONMENT, on the other hand, is what makes you you, the person are today. More specifically, it is your reactions to the experiences you have with your environment and to the people who surround you. No one is an island. Seriously.

       Some of us just accept what is happening to us with little question. Others challenge these occurrences with questions or confrontation. We do not accept the way things are. We look for better ways to accomplish the same task or overcome the same challenge. We are not intimidated by life; we attack it.

       Of course, there are many other factors that form who we are. Our economic heritage, our own financial situation. Our cultural history: that is, how much our ethnic history and socioeconomic station in life affects us. Where we attended school, prep or otherwise. Our predisposition for introversion or extroversion. When you were growing up did you prefer to read or write? Were you more into sports? Always ready to compete or challenge a goal?  

       Some of us (not me) were ready for both! I was more of an introvert.

       Then there is, what I call, “the God factor.” I believe that God has designed each of us to fulfill our role on this blue marble, third planet from our star. We are designed to make a difference, to contribute something to the successful functioning of the various people groups across the globe.

       Too many of the people on our planet live for themselves, with little-to-no interest in making a difference in our world. “Go for all the gusto you can grab!” and they do.

       For years I have endeavored to instill a sense of urgency and responsibility in those I know and have taught. I wonder how successful I have been.

       How about you? Have you made a difference?

       One day we will all stand before our Creator. Are you ready for what He will ask you? “What did you do with what I gave you?”

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


NEXT— The Shower— How do you decide what is right or wrong?

Easter 2023— of chocolate Easter bunnies and Jesus

Having just read an online article about all the carcinogens in Chocolate Easter Bunnies I am somewhat loathe to dash all your myths about Easter and its surrounding festivities. The good news is that there are some chocolates that are actually good for you; Ghiardelli Chocolate, M&Ms, and Dove to name a few. But the majority of chocolate Easter Bunnies, well, er, not so much. Still, you would have to eat A LOT of chocolate/

     The Western world has been moving away from admitting the true meaning of Easter for quite some time. But to learn that the stuff in Easter Bunnies can kill you…, that’s just over the edge. It’s like learning the Tooth Fairy didn’t really leave you that quarter under your pillow in the morning.

     For the most part, our Easter candy gathering is actually killing us. What’s next? Valentine’s Day hearts?! The death of Trick-or-Treating!? What is this world coming to?

     Our whole Easter celebrations, the arrival of Spring, the last remnants of winter, has led us to this— poison rabbits. It’s just wrong.

     Then again, so is what we’ve done with Jesus at Easter. I don’t think my own grandkids know what Jesus did for us at Easter. The true meaning of Easter has been lost to commercialism and triviality.

     As if the sacrifice of Jesus’ life wasn’t enough, conquering death is simply unbelievable! How could the magnitude of His work on the cross be supplanted with this trivial bunny stuff. Kids love it, to be sure. But shouldn’t we explain more to them than just the bunnies? [and the jelly beans, and Cadbury eggs, and marshmallow Peeps?!?]

     This past Easter celebration struck me as unusually essential. Our society has moved so far away from its roots in the Christian religion that, we, as followers of Christ, own very little of our former value to be a major stabilizing force within.

     How can we reverse that? Well, we can’t. But we can regain ground through entering into our world’s celebrations. As Christians, let’s build our right to be heard!

1.   Throw an Easter egg hunt where you live.

2.   Hold an Easter barbeque in your home or apartment.

3.   Serve good wine, not two-buck chuck.

4.   Plan activities for the kids that teams them up with their parents.

5.   Plan the Next holiday party with your neighbors. [Juneteenth?]

We need to win the right to be heard in our clueless culture.

     Hope your Easter was as wild and deep as ours!

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




The Whiskey Chronicles 26 – I’m OK…, you’re out of your mind

   In my conversations with the normal people of this world [the Christian faith is no longer the norm] I find that many of them simply respond to the assertions about my faith, I’m OK— you’re out of your mind. They truly believe that all this mumbo-jumbo about faith in Jesus is just plane NUTS.

    Christ’s claims about who He was and what He came to do for this world were just the ravings of a madman who was disconnected from reality. And that makes His followers equally disillusioned.

    They are not going to question their own sanity. They’re just fine. We’re the nut-jobs.

     And that should draw us to question some presumptions about our own faith. Are we crazy to blindly accept the principles and precepts of our own faith with little investigation or examination? Christian faith is NOT just a assemblage of declarations about what we think is true and accurate. It comes down to two enquiries — 1. Can history be verified? and, 2. Is faith a viable surety?

     Before you dismiss these questions as extraneous to our faith, consider that it is worth reexamining the foundations of our faith. Considering the proposition that history cannot be verified [Did George Washington, Lenin, or Julius Caeser ever exist?] then we must question all OR, in faith, believe the reports about them are true. Considering the validity of faith on an individual level, there is a history of people who believe in things which postModern, postChristian people believe that they can be only scientifically verified.

     Then, really, are historical/faith questions all that matter?

     What about intuition? What about ESP? What about that special sense that lodges itself just below your consciousness?

     There are more ways than scientific confidence to give veracity to a belief. History itself is a matter of faith— Well supported faith, but faith, nonetheless.

     When believing followers of Christ are challenged that we are out of our mind, we must remember that our beliefs have a great deal of certitude surrounding them. We are not an ignorant people.

     Too many assertions in the Bible have later been proven accurate. And far too often have the lives of true Christians saved the civilizations of this world.

     So, when our world accuses us of being out of our mind our response should be twofold.

1.   Look at the corroboration of history. There’s just too much to support our faith.

2.   Simply love those who accuse.

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


NEXT— Afterthoughts…, my best ideas come to me in the shower

The Whiskey Chronicles 25 – Happy the Way I Am

“Don’t worry…, be happy.” Yada, yada, yada.

    In this year, 2023, I actually know people who see being happy as their ONLY life goal. To be happy! I don’t know if it’s because they’re young (thirtysomething) or I’m old (no comment), but this seems like a totally self-absorbed objective.

      My life, all/most of it, at least, has been about making a difference in our world. The tagline for my life has been, for a long time, honor God, honor people…, make a difference. So, it somewhat bugs me when some other people just want to be happy.


       For me, happiness is a byproduct of making a difference. I have a lot of friends who live to make a difference— every day. They are NOT happy the way they are. They are NOT happy the way you are. Our world is full of too much pain, too much conflict, and too much anger, and way too much desire for retaliation for us to be concerned only with our own happiness.

       If you are happy with the way you are, you had better be making a major difference in improving the state of our fellow man/women. If you are only able to give money, can you give more? If you serve as a volunteer in a homeless shelter, have you fallen in love with their guests? If you serve overseas in a medical clinic, are you interested in further training in some medical field?

       On the other hand, if you are happy the with the way you are and you are doing little to nothing to make a difference in our world…, how can you be happy?!?

       God forgive you…, if you believe in a god, that is. If not, may the people of this world forgive you.

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

NEXT— I’m OK— you’re out of your mind

The Whiskey Chronicles 24 – Salvation from… What?

As I peruse the intellectual, practical functions of Western Culture I find little understanding of Christian faith. So when we tell people of their need of salvation their general response is— from what?

       On one hand the church in the West has lost its ability to express its beliefs in a language that people can grasp. But it’s worse than that. People truly do not know that there is anything wrong with them.

       When Thomas Harris (M.D.) released his classic I’m OK: You’re OK in 1967, he could not have had an idea of its subsequent far-reaching effects. The title says it all. None of us really have a problem. There’s no right, no wrong, no anything. Everything is simply a matter of perspective.

       If people do sense any need for salvation they will work it out for themselves. There was no need for Christ to die for our sins. There is no sin. We’re all OK.

       Do we really believe this?

       My wife and I have many friends who don’t come close to being Christians. We are a novelty for them, but they still like us. There is something to be said for loving and not condemning. Something to be said for accepting them for where they are in life…, and in the process teaching them about God. The key ingredient in our relationships with them is prayer. We rarely say anything; but we pray. PRAYER is always the underlying foundation for our relationships with people— Christian and Normal.

       In many ways I’ve grown used to their complete ignorance about our faith and about our Lord. Explaining their need for Christ and his salvation is like drawing a white rabbit in a snow field. Blank. Still, we are called to love these people in their ignorance.

       They cannot save themselves. They do not know this. Nor are they aware of the glory and blessing that awaits them in the safe arms of Jesus. Rather, He is seen as a threat to their individuality and freedom. Have we done that to them with a hundred years of hellfire and brimstone preaching? I don’t know that either. But I am sure that our constant calling them to account for their sins hasn’t shown much mercy and grace. One more reason to find the Christian message baffling.

       I pray that, one day, people will see their need of Christ and His salvation. It is still freely offered. And it will be offered through the likes of us.

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


NEXT— I am happy the way I am.

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! ©


NEXT— no need for religion, or Christ


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! 


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.


Gary & Starr

Image Credit-  Gary Davis