Still sleeping…but half awake

cat, asleep, awake, gary davis, christianity, thinkingMany genuine Christians in this postChristian era still do not comprehend the extent to which the influence of the Christian message has lost its hearing in Western Culture. The mighty dollar is the new God of choice. Power is the new religion; whatever it takes to stay alive or succeed is the practice of faith.

Christianity has lost sway over people’s lives, government decisions, and general morality. What genuine Christianity is flourishing here is doing so outside the mainstream cultural inclinations. But we are not at odds with our culture; we have been subsumed within its values so fully that we are barely noticeable; unless, of course, one of us tries some lame-brained stunt to get noticed in the name of Jesus. Thus do we verify our culture’s judgment that we are irrelevant to anything that matters.

We are still sleeping when it comes to understanding what normal people genuinely think of us; if they think of us at all. To be fair, though, some of us are waking up to the reality that we are in the minority; at least in American culture (referring to the US). Most Christians in the USA still need to come to grips with the realities of the cultural changes and blurring-of-the-lines that has taken place. Do you want to know what people think of us?!? Ask them. Take time to build rich relationships with people around you who never, EVER go to church. Do you want the truth, or do you want to stay asleep…, in a permanent daze?

Let’s wake up and get involved in the lives of those who sit just on the fringes of our lives, who need Jesus.

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

  Gary

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Vice Versa

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Fractal Machine

A good friend of mine once said, “Life is painful. If you haven’t realized that yet you haven’t lived long enough.”

Life changes. So also do our perceptions of who we are and what we are yet to accomplish.

For example, when I was in my 20s I had a clear sense of calling—

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19, (NIV)

With great energy and enthusiasm I plunged into the depths of our world’s myriad throngs, making one mistake after another. I was so intent on proclaiming that I have spent a lifetime relearning how to communicate our faith so those who need our Lord can understand it. The message is the same, but its transference is now attuned to the culture, experiences, and nuances of those who hear it.

Today, Our Lord Christ reminds me that He is the One who fulfills our faith. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders (us) and the sin that so easily entangles (us). And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2, (NIV)

Christ Jesus will be the One who will draw all the peoples of the world to Himself. He will fulfill the Great Commission given to us. Nonetheless, we are the ones who are called to not loose heart, to stay the course, to throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that entangles, and to keep our focus on our Lord. If we tilt our glance to one side or the other we may believe that we are no longer in the race. I assure you, we are.

Of a truth, I must admit to some discouragement and weariness along the way. Sometimes I’ve just wanted to throw in the towel and say, enough! All I hear back from God is, “Really! That’s interesting.”

Get the point? You are not the one who gets to decide when your calling, your race, is over. Do not mess with the God Who made you. It’s way too dangerous.

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

Gary

Falling Behind Before Fall

6086519585_59a875090b_bSit down. Breathe. Now breathe again. Two weeks from now is LABOR DAY WEEKEND. What?!? You forgot to get in your summer vacation? Oh, you’re on it now. So you’ll be all rested for the back to school bunch. Getting ready to head off to college with your brand new $1600 laptop, buying new clothes and school supplies for your kindergartner [They total over $125 this year], and wondering if your air conditioners should be put away just yet, or in November…, maybe never.

Conclusion: you’re already falling behind.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that There is more to life than increasing its speed. But every Fall in Western civilization that is all we seem to do; increase our pace of life to the breaking point. I’ve wondered why someone hasn’t yet engraved their tombstone with I didn’t finish everything.

Given the present pace of culture I’m not sure it is possible for us to finish everything. We have to pick and choose. What is critical? Next, what is important? Then, what is broken that absolutely demands our attention? NOW! Move to Critical list.

If you are married there is always the question of priority for you family. Are they? Will you interrupt your work load to spend time with your wife, your husband, your kids who desperately want your love and time?

In other words, if you don’t want to fall behind as we enter this Fall, STOP ADDING SO MUCH TO YOUR SCHEDULE. Wait…, is it jammed full already? Hummm. Let me think. CUT THINGS. Unless, of course, you’ve made yourself indispensable to every commitment in your life. Let other people fill in for you. How else will they be able to make the same mistakes you did, and learn from them?!?

You need to make a difference on this planet in the time God has given you to be here. You will be less effective if you are constantly worn down and cranky. So…, STOP now. Reassess, before you are so over-committed you don’t even have the time to do that.

For what it’s worth,
  Gary

Beyond Words-Take 2- Faith Factors

 

One critical question needs to be asked when desiring to connect the Christian Message with people living outside the confines of the Christian bubble. Namely— What are the key elements that determine the expression and communication of our faith in a postChristian society? As a reminder, we can no longer “just give them the gospel.”The gospel” simply has no cultural pinning in a world so long removed from its Christian roots. Maybe a picture is worth a thousand words—

communication circles

In the next few EMPulses we will explore these 6 elements in more depth. For now, let us open a cursory unpacking of these ingredients.

First, to express and/or communicate our faith in this postChristian society we must establish a Biblical Mindset within our own practice of faith. Just going to church, saying the right words, and memorizing a few Bible verses conveys only s surface-faith to others.

Next, we need to understand that our faith is Personality Specific. Our personality filters our faith to fit who we are and who we must become. We must not squeeze ourselves into a faith-box. You cannot be like me or any other Christian. You must be you.

Thirdly, our Christian faith is Culturally Sensitive. We dare not continue to import a western faith into a postChristian Europe, emerging Africa, or a diverse Asia. One of the distinctives of our faith is that it fits into the heartbeats and lifestyles of the host-culture. Yet, in our Western, North American patchwork of cultural blends we must here, too, learn to be culturally sensitive.One size, or shape, does not fit all.

Fourth, as we offer people a relationship with Jesus Christ, we must remember that they must hear His offer of life in their context. “The Gospel” must be heard in their life context. Therefore, in many ways, the Gospel is Receiver Determined. How do they see the Christian faith? It is our task to express our faith in ways that they can respond to and receive Christ’s life into their own.

Fifth, the expression and communication of our Christian faith should be Community Networked. First, we should be networked within a healthy group of fellow believers who have a similar passion for the normal people around us. Second, our faith communication should be networked among those God has placed in our path. No need for commando raids or “debriefings” afterwards. We need to immerse ourselves into the lives of those around us who have no concept of the Christian message. [Warning: you may just come to love them.]

Finally, we, as genuine Christians, need to become more aware of the Holy Spirit of God within. We need to become Spirit Attuned. For we do not offer a person merely the Truths about Jesus, we are offering them Jesus Christ himself. We need to attune our spirits to be in line with God’s Spirit and also in tune with the lives of the people we have come to love. We cannot sense the work of Christ in the lives of others until we clean up our own inner-selves. No wonder God works in spite of us so much of the time.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

 

 

The Christian Way?

dr, gary, davis, highway, christian, way, politics, religionIf you’ve ever driven across this nation’s highways you know that at times roadmaps, GPS, and Road Signs, and actual roads seem to be at odds with one another. My proof for this? LA. ‘Nough said.

The same convoluted mess can often be found among the many theological/political roads the Church has followed over the last two millennia. Os Guinness puts it well in his book RENAISSANCE (2014).

“Whenever God has not given us clear and authoritative instructions as to how we are to conduct our lives, we are free to pursue our own solutions within the guidelines of the principles God has given us. But that means that our best solutions will always be a Christian way of doing things. They are not the Christian way.

 “In light of God’s principles, we can say that certain ways of doing things that contradict those principles are not Christian, but we can never say that one way alone is. In that sense, there is no one ‘Christian economics,’ any more that there is one ‘Christian retirement plan,’ one ‘Christian political party,’ or one Christian anything… .

 “This caution applies equally to our attitudes to cultures. Doubtless all Christians have their favorite periods of Christian history; which to them represent the golden age of faith. The Orthodox prize the age of the early Fathers. Catholics talk reverently of the medieval world and ‘the great age of faith.’ Protestants elevate the Reformation and its ‘recovery of the gospel and the Scriptures.’ Evangelicals take great pride and courage from the First Great Awakening and its potent combination of the preaching of the gospel and the spawning of myriad social reforms. And Pentecostals and charismatics hard back to the Azusa Street revival and its triggering one of the greatest and still continuing missionary advances in the history of the Christian church.

 “Yet all these periods were at best more or less Christian, and today their flaws, their blind spots, their unintended consequences could be enumerated along with their undisputed blessings.” (122-123)

Navigating one’s faith journey along today’s spiritual and ecclesiastical highways is just as fraught with individualistic potholes and theological blind spots as in previous generations. Do not be so presumptuous as to assume my way is best.

Constantly return to the Scriptures in the context of fellow believers to learn afresh the principles God has given us live healthy lives before him.  Let me leave you with this—a line from a song written by Hillsong United, sung by Taya Smith. “I touch the sky…, when my knees hit the ground.”

 

You have my prayers,

Gary

Hidden

051048048057054055054050124053048048124052048048Why are we hiding? Or— What is it we try to hide? Too many of us exert a lot of energy trying to hide, or trying to hide something about ourselves that, if revealed, would expose us.

The artistry of Bev Doolitle (1947-   ) depicts objects hidden to the casual observer. We are so much like the horses in her paintings. If people were to look intently at our life, what is it we would try to hide? I’ve worked with some people whose biggest fear in getting married was being known. I tried to assure them that being known, and still loved, was the best part of being married; I’m not sure they bought it.

What drives us to hide things? Insecurity, fear, shame, dishonesty? Or worse, why do we hide ourselves? Of course, if you’ve been betrayed or used, there is some warrant for it. You don’t want to be hurt that deeply again.

The issue, basically, is one of safety. We ALL want to feel safe. So we hide the parts of us that would expose us. This is wise…, to a point. But our need for safety can also choke the spirit within us. It can bind us in a box with just slits through which we take in the outside world.

Would you like to escape your box and take in more of the outside world? Here are some ideas—

  • Spend time with people. Reflecting off of them will give you insights into yourself. You’ll surprise them; they’ll surprise you.
  • Try something that engages your soul. Doesn’t matter what. Just not too much over the line. Deeper discussion, life challenging experiences. Hold back on sky-diving.
  • Build one-safe-friendship. Create a confident.
  • Create a private novel about the kind of life you’d like to live. Then, slowly, start to live it.

Hiding takes a lot of energy. Think what you might be accomplishing if you didn’t have to work so hard at hiding your true self. Think of the energy you could invest in developing new dreams, new skills or new relationships. Be intentional. Remaining hidden, if pursued over a long period of time, results in further isolation; and that creates further fear of being known.

You do not need to stay hidden. Make the decision to be known.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

The (real)First Step

The first step in bringing people to faith in Christ is to get to know them. BUT before that, we need to understand how they see is. One of the ways I find out what people think about us it to ask them.

Here’s a video of just such conversations.

So when you leave your computer/phone, immerse yourself in the lives of your friends and workmates. Start by ASKING questions like:

1.What do you enjoy most about your life?

2. What is the most fun thing you’ve ever done?

3. What was it like growing up?

4. What has been your experience with Christianity, good and bad?

5. Describe your religious beliefs now. What does your spirituality offer you that Christianity does not?

6. To what extent do your beliefs influence your decisions and life motivations?

7.What problems do you have with the Church and/or Christianity?

8. How do you feel when a Christian tries to convert you?

9.How would you like Christians to treat you?

10. If you could change anything about the church, christians or Christianity what would you change?

11. How do you know that you are loved by someone?

Then after you have won the right to be heard, (maybe months or even years later) tell them about the God who created them, who loves them and who wants to give them everything He has to offer. Tell them about the God who offers his forgiveness to them for all the times they dishonored him. Tell them about the God who wants to make them WHOLE persons again.