Thank You, Mrs. Robinson

 

Mrs. Robinson was an attractive, elderly lady who served in a staff position at the college I was attending. We had exchanged friendly “hellos” when we would happen to meet on campus but I didn’t know her very well. I had no clue about the role she would play in a life-long paradigm shift in the way I would think about the meaning of love.

Timing is very important in sharing advice with people and the time was right for me.  I was in a very frustrated state of mind about relationships with young women. The way I had approached these relationships had left me disappointed and empty. I believed the Hollywood idea of love and romance and expected the other person to somehow make me happy and complete. I had dated some really good people but the “magic” hadn’t happened. What I was thinking and doing wasn’t working. I was ready for some help and God showed up.

 Mrs. Robinson walked by and asked to join me on the bench where I was sitting. She must have sensed God leading her to sit with me. She was a good listener and very careful in the way she gave advice. After a few pleasantries, I felt comfortable telling her what was troubling me. She heard me and understood the hunger for love and meaning that was being expressed in my words. She discerned the wrong thinking that had left me frustrated and empty and offered a new way of thinking about love. “Cos,” she said, “Concentrate on how to be a loving person, not on how to be loved.”

 I studied Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and other great thinkers in college but that was the most profound idea I heard while pursuing my degree. And, it remains one of the most meaningful concepts I have ever heard. The essence of what Mrs. Robinson was saying clearly lines up with the teaching of Jesus and the way He lived and died.

What we think at a conviction level is seen in how we live. Mrs. Robinson was attempting to show me a biblical way to think about myself and others. She was saying, without really saying it, that I needed to change my thinking about how to have the meaning and purpose I wanted from life. To do what she suggested would mean to allow Christ to change me into the caring person He wanted me to be. (Romans 8:29).

Have you noticed how our culture worships at the altar of the wealthy, powerful, and popular? Much of the junk we experience in politics, entertainment, education, and media can be traced to the lack of one thing: we don’t value character anymore. We need lots of folks like Mrs. Robinson who have deep convictions about biblical values and are willing to help those who will listen find a better way of thinking. Will you be that person for someone? 

Thank you, Mrs. Robinson, for listening and giving me something to consider that has made a real difference in the way I  try to live. And, Mrs. Robinson, I’m still working on what you advised, and trying to pass that idea along to others who will listen. 

 

     

 

Worth Fighting For

This blog is written on May 31, 2021, Memorial Day. This particular date is important to me for a couple of reasons. First, it is a federal holiday set aside to honor the countless men and women who have died in battle to gain or preserve the freedoms we so often take for granted. In the year 1969, Memorial Day was on Saturday, May 31; a day that forever changed my life. It seems that anything worth having in life will cost us something. Let me tell you what I mean by that.

 The founding fathers who declared independence from England in 1776 realized they were putting their lives and all their possessions at risk.  At the close of that long war, many widows were left to raise their fatherless children. Our country was founded on the sacrifice and blood of thousands of men whose names we will never know. 

For three months in sweltering Philadelphia heat fifty-five men met to produce the constitution of the United States of America, the outline of how our country would function under separate branches of government. At the insistence of the colonies, a Bill of Rights (amendments 1-10) was added before approval. Those amendments include such things as freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms, and freedom from unlawful search and seizure of property, etc.

Ben Franklin, at 81, was by far the oldest delegate at the constitutional convention. Once the lengthy debates for approval in the state conventions were over and the thirteen colonies became the United States of America, Franklin is recorded saying something to the effect, “ Now we have a republic, let’s see if we can keep it.” Franklin was a very wise man, knowing a great deal about human nature and the threat our form of government would be to the power-hungry within and outside our borders. There is a great price to pay for the freedoms we enjoy. Memorial Day is supposed to help us remember that fact.

I have traced the name of a family member on the Viet Nam Memorial wall in D.C. and stood in awe and felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and gratitude as my tear-filled eyes surveyed almost ten thousand white crosses at the national cemetery in Normandy, France. These young men laid it all down for us and the preservation of freedom in Europe. Our freedom isn’t free. But, I’m concerned that we have become so lazy, forgetful, arrogant, and ignorant that we are about to lose much of what others valued to the point of sacrificing their lives.

My primary concern about losing the country so many have died for has little to do with China, Russia, Iran, or Korea. The founding fathers understood that only a moral people could maintain the form of government for which so many have died. God has not abandoned us. We have abandoned Him, little by little. Godless laws promote the killing of the unborn; a society that has been deceived into exchanging materialism for the One True God. Commonsense is not “common” anymore.  Our national soul is in trouble. We are in dire need of repentance and a return to an emphasis on godly character. It’s time for all believers to wake up to the reality of our gradual slide to destruction. God is our hope and help.

The second reason this day is special to me is because 52 years ago today Cecelia and I made a commitment to God and each other that we would live in obedience to God in our marriage “until death do us part.” We have had our share of “fights,” as is true of most good marriages. But, we have fought for our marriage by protecting it and growing in a kind of oneness that God has intended. We have been able to put aside petty differences and focus on the goal of making our marriage work as it should. Good marriages and families will cost you something that cannot be purchased with money.

 Our marriage is not a good one because we have “survived” more than a half century. It is good because we have fought for it by doing  three things pretty well; we have maintained our commitment to God and each other; we have learned to communicate with each other, and we have been able to use our conflicts for better understanding and adjustments. We have worked at it. I believe marriage is what people make it. By the way, Marriage is What You Make It is the title of one of my books you can find at www.cosdavis.com. You may know someone who could use some helping in how to fight for their marriage. Marriage is one of those precious things worth fighting for. Good marriages are not produced by the weak or lazy. It requires people to graduate from a high school, Hollywood view of love, and experience what real love, married love is all about. If isn’t easy but it’s well worth fighting for.

How Is Your Spiritual Vision ?

Several years ago I had an experience with “floaters” which caused me to do some research and thinking about my eyes. Your eyes are a marvelous testimony of the ingenuity of our Creator. If you haven’t done so, take some time to investigate some of the marvels of one of the most intricate and wonderful parts of your body, your eyes.

For many years I had perfect (20/20) vision. But as I continued to age, I needed glasses with a corrective lens to enable me to read and see things up close more easily. Another change came and I now wear glasses to correct my vision at far, intermediate and close distances. This is the last step before I will have surgery to replace the lenses in both eyes to remove cataracts and correct most of my vision issues. I take care of my eyes in order to see correctly. 

Vision is important, physically and spiritually. I encourage you to take care of your eyes, protect them from injury and get the medical help you need for them to serve you well until you don’t need them any longer.

What is spiritual vision about? It is how you “see” life. It involves such things as attitude, prejudice, selfishness, gentleness, honesty, faith, love, hope, and many other moral and spiritual qualities. Someone has said, “We don’t see life as it is, we see life as we are.” We bring our personal interpretation and perception to everything we do? You deal with your spouse, children, family, friends, and strangers based on your spiritual vision.

Spiritual vision, the way you “see” life is what Jesus is referencing in this statement, “…if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”  Matthew 6:22-23.

Your spiritual vision has been formed through how you have interpreted your life experiences. Good for you if you have chosen to believe and act on some very healthy perspectives on life from parents, teachers and other authority figures. On the other hand, you may have been very stubborn and prideful and chose to learn some lessons “the hard way.” Have you interpreted life through the lens of  God’s Word? If not, where do you get your outlook on life?  

How is your spiritual vision? My ophthalmologist checks my vision by having me read four lines of different letters and symbols of different sizes. That is his standard to determine the accuracy of my vision.  Where do you go to have your spiritual vision checked and corrected? We need to go early and often to Jesus to correct our thinking. Go to His teaching, go to his actions and think about how you are to do life. Paul prescribes the cure for  prejudice, selfishness, and pride which can distort our thinking, “Have the attitude which Jesus had..” Read the entire prescription to fix your thinking in Philippians 4:4-8. Blessings, Cos   

Why Do you Think The Way You Do?

It’s encouraging and refreshing to deal with honest people. I had an experience recently that made my day. I took my car to a repair shop to get the front brake pads replaced. I had been told by another shop that I would need this work done soon and went to the second place for another opinion. The mechanic at the new shop did a quick look, without removing the wheels, and estimated I had a couple of thousand miles left on the pads.

 I liked the price of the work at this shop and decided to let them do the work. I brought my car back in a few days and went home expecting to return that afternoon to get it. Instead, a couple of hours later, I got a call from the service manager, “ Mr. Davis, you don’t need new brake pads. You have about half the life left on the ones on your car.” We discussed the situation to my satisfaction, and when I went to get the car I said, “George, thank you for being honest with me. You could have done the work and I would not have known the difference. Why?” He told me he never did work that didn’t need to be done on a vehicle. “Why?” I repeated. Then he told me why he thought the way he did about being honest with people, “When I was growing up, I wouldn’t be able to sit down for days if my dad caught me in a lie or doing something dishonest.” He also told me of another repair shop he left because his employer wanted him to be dishonest in dealing with customers.

George’s dad is no longer around to punish him if he varies from the early lessons concerning honesty. Thankfully, George has decided to continue to think and act honestly with people. As a result, I and others who come into this repair shop will be treated well because He has developed a pattern of thinking that prompts him to treat people with respect.

 Those fixed, unconscious patterns of thinking such as George operates by are important to each of us. Think about these questions. How do you view life? What do you think is really important? How do you think about God? Yourself? Others? Take a few moments and consider how you are thinking about these things.

Next question, “Where did you learn to think this way? “  Do you just go along with the crowd and never dare to really think deeply about important stuff? Do you get your ideas from the brilliant politicians in D.C.? Who or what has had a strong influence on the way you think?  

What do you use as a measure to determine if what you are thinking is true or false? What role does the Bible play in helping you formulate the way you think about the things that really matter?  

 At the close of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7), Jesus tells a story about two builders.  The fool refuses to build his life on the teachings of Jesus and faces the destruction his choice brings. The wise man adopts Jesus’ teachings as his way of thinking and acting and his life withstands all the assaults and storms life can throw at him. There are consequences to how we think about God and His plan for our life. Think well and deeply about that. 

 

 

What Was I Thinking?

 

Do you ever have to change your thinking about something because new information about it causes you to reconsider? This kind of thing happens to me often.

Recently, I contacted a yard treatment company for an additional application for my yard. The price for the work seemed much higher than the quote I was given a few weeks earlier. I texted them back and told them the original quote on the work was $70.00, not the $100.00 they quoted. Let’s stop right here for a moment and see how the new information affected me. How do you respond when the information you receive is counter to what you have been thinking is correct?

Trustworthiness is the first thing I look for in a company. Some bad experiences have caused my unconscious thinking to be a bit skeptical until I believe I can trust what I am told by the company. Thus far, the work by this group had been very acceptable, but this new quote raised a suspicion that I might be getting ‘bamboozled.”

Then, I did something I should have done before responding to the quote. I went to my notes on our initial conversation to verify that I was correct. What I discovered was that I had conflated different parts of our discussion. My thinking was wrong and I acted on wrong thinking. There it was in my notes; the cost for the application was $120.00, not the $100.00 they quoted.  

What did they think about me? Did they think I was trying to get a better price? A cheap person trying to cheat them?  Well, I wrote a quick text apologizing for my misunderstanding and told them I would be getting back to them concerning the work.         

You probably have stories of how you were on one side of a situation where you or the other person were acting from wrong information. How did the issue get resolved? Or, did it ever get resolved? How did your feelings change once you got better information?

What am I getting at with this story? I want you to consider how the truth underlying my simple story can have profound effects on the most important relationships in your life. The truth is: your thinking will determine the way you act toward God, your spouse, your children, etc.. Actions follow thinking. I will attempt to share more specifics about this in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, consider how this idea is working in different areas of your life.

Since the way we think is so crucial in how we act, let me offer a few pieces of advice for all of us.

  1. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. James 1:19.
  2. Don’t jump to conclusions.
  3. Consider the possibility you don’t have all the facts.
  4. 4.Hold yourself accountable for how you think and how you act.

Who Are You Trying to Please?

I believe we are in a cultural war that will determine the future of our country. Forces of hell are working to change the very nature of our society in several different ways. Evil is behind this effort in high places in government, schools, powerful corporations, and many media outlets to replace the Christian principles that undergird our constitution and way of life. They are inciting hate and division which can ultimately destroy us. Those who participate in these activities have a plan based on lies and use intimidation, and often shut down or attempt to cancel the message of those who oppose them.

These entities make the rules about what you are supposed to believe and the words you can use in your opinions. They are right, and if you oppose their “superior” way of thinking, you are called a racist, homophobe, or some other derogatory name. To avoid being canceled or suffer their wrath, you must agree with their lies, as many are doing. At the very least, you must be silent and let things happen as they will.

Don’t get me wrong; our country isn’t perfect. There are lots of areas where change is needed. We have gone through some dark and challenging times, but we have made considerable progress in race relations and many other areas. I believe the “systemic race issue” is a pretext, a smokescreen to divide our country and fundamentally change us into a socialist nation. Power is what this is all about.

So, as a person of faith, a follower of Jesus, what can I do? There are several things for us to consider. First, remember who you are and Who it is you are to please. We belong to God, and we do not bow the knee to anyone but Him.

Also, remember that evil is always trying to defeat good. Genesis 4: 1-8 recounts how the jealous, angry Cain killed his brother, Abel. The difference in their gifts was not in the substance (animal vs. fruit) but their attitude toward their Creator. Abel honored and pleased God with the best he had, while Cain’s gift fell short of what God deserved. Don’t be surprised that evil is showing its ugly face in our society in unprecedented ways.

Third, we need to stay aware of the issues and be faithful, like Abel, to give our best to God every day. Live your faith and become active where you can to lovingly oppose the evil you see. You can learn about issues such as “critical Race Theory” at www.hillsdale.edu.

And pray against the evil. Prayer is a subversive activity against evil schemes and the schemers of this world. Prayer is a powerful way to fight the devil and those who have joined him to destroy all that is good about our country.  Pray against the evil and for the souls of those who perpetrate it. Love your enemies by praying for them.

Who are you trying to please? If you are a believer, you are in a fight whether you want to be or not. It’s time for all of us to wake up and do what Paul says in Ephesians 6: 10-18, “ Put on the whole armor of  God……”  Take a couple of minutes to read this passage for yourself.

Where’s the Evidence?

Many years ago there was a question being asked from pulpits and in Christian writings that went something like this, “If you were arrested and put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Today, Christians are being persecuted in many different parts of the world. And, the way things seem to be trending in our country, the idea that you and I could be put on trial for our faith in Christ may not be far-fetched

What if you were arrested today for your faith? Would there be enough indisputable facts, witnesses for the prosecutor to convict you as a follower of Jesus? What do you think your accuser would look for as evidence against you? What would be the conclusive proof, that one thing that would leave no doubt in the jury’s collective mind?

What if John, a neighbor or family member, is called as a witness concerning your faith? Imagine the prosecution’s line of questions: “Does ( put your name here) profess to be a follower of Jesus, a Christian?” “Yes,” John answers.

“Does (      ) attend and support a local church?” Again John answers, “Yes.”

“Does (        ) pray and read the Bible?” “I have reason to believe they do.”

“Why do you believe they do?” “Because (            ) has told me they pray for me and my family. And, they talk with me from time to time about things in the Bible.”

After hearing these things, the prosecutor presses for John’s conclusion to convict you as a Christian, “So, on this evidence that (           ) claims to be a Christian, attends and supports a church, prays and reads the Bible, that you believe he is a follower of Jesus?”

“No,” John answers, “There is something more that has convinced me.”

The startled prosecutor continues, “More, what do you mean?”

“(               “ is the most caring and consistently good person I have ever known. (              ) has dealt with lots of stress and loss but it hasn’t changed their basic approach to life. I believe this is true because (            ) has a personal relationship with God. I don’t know any other way to explain it.

The prosecutor says, “John, I have one other question for you. Are you a Christian?”

“No, I am not. But, if I were, I would want to be one like (            ).

Conclusion      

Do you love Jesus? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15.

Are you a disciple of Jesus? “By this all men will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

Where is the evidence? It is in the way we live in relation to the truth in these verses. The life of faith in Jesus produces the kind of evidence that proves our guilt.

Paul was proud to be found guilty as a follower of Jesus, ” The life I  live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.

Not Guilty

The guilt or innocence of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is in the hands of twelve jurors. Chauvin, as you know, has been charged with the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020. The jury’s task is to listen to witnesses, weigh the facts, and decide the innocence or guilt of Mr. Chauvin. The verdict will determine this man’s fate, a judgment that is likely to be unpopular no matter which way it goes.

Courtroom or legal words such as judgment, guilty, and innocent are part of the language Paul and others use to write about the life of faith. For example, God is the supreme Judge, sin is the breaking of God’s law, and the penalty for sin is death. Faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus is our only hope for a Not Guilty verdict.

Human judges and jurors have been known to make mistakes in judgment, sometimes convicting the innocent or freeing the guilty. Our judicial system is not perfect because people are not perfect.

But God is perfect; He doesn’t make mistakes about our guilt or innocence. Guilty or not guilty? What is your standing before God?  In his letter to the Romans, Paul tells us we are all guilty before God, “All have sinned and come short of God’s expectations (glory).” Thankfully, that’s   not the whole story, “For the payment we receive for our sin is death, but the gift from God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” What role does faith play in our guilt or innocence before God?

Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into the grace in which we stand; and exult (have joyful expectation) in the hope of the glory of God.”

The legal term, justified, is used to describe our standing with God. What does the word mean? It means you are innocent of the sin you have committed. Your past sin is expunged or erased, as if it never happened. Yes, you have sinned against God, but now you are declared innocent. Is that because God doesn’t care about sin, or He takes your wickedness lightly? No, a thousand times no!  Why did Jesus die on the cross? Your precious Lord died for your sin so you wouldn’t have to face life and eternity separated from God.

God has done everything necessary to save you, and the one thing you must do to have your sin and its penalty canceled is to put your faith in Him, to trust him with your entire being. You don’t have to agonize over the future of your soul; God declared you “innocent” the moment you accepted Jesus as your Savior. You are justified, pronounced NOT GUILTY, before God. The battle is over, and you are at peace with Him by faith. Your trust in Him brings you into a relationship of grace where you are especially pleasing to God. And, because of faith, you can live in the joyful expectation of your eternal future with Jesus, your Lord. Not Guilty, what an indescribable verdict !! Live in that victory today.

Postscript: Do you occasionally have past sins called to your attention? Are you sometimes reminded of the wicked things you once said or did before you accepted Jesus? Who or what is that? It is the work of the accuser, the devil, attempting to discourage you. The evil one is alive and well and wants to cause you to doubt your salvation and lessen your witness for your living Lord. By faith you have been brought into a place of grace (Romans 5:2). Your standing with God is secure. When the devil visits, remind him that you belong to Jesus and watch him run.

Everyday Faith

 

In last week’s blog “Entering the Faith Adventure,” I emphasized the absolute necessity of biblical faith for a personal relationship with God. Faith connects our spirit to God, who is Spirit. Our saving relationship with God begins and continues in faith until we come into His presence at death.

Do you recall the early days when you first trusted Christ as your Savior? What was it like for you to be “in love with Jesus?” Did you want to please Him? Did you feel so grateful for His forgiveness that you were willing to give your life to Him, to do whatever He asked you to do? How about today, is your greatest desire to please Him?

Have you allowed the strain and pain of everyday life to dim the glow of your early experience with the Lord? Have you, like the church in Ephesus, “left your first love?” (Revelation 2:1-7). You haven’t denied the faith, you continue to give and support ministry efforts, but something isn’t quite right. You don’t sense the closeness to God that you once had. Could it be that you depend too much on yourself and others and less on God? Has your faith in God lessened since you first trusted Him?

The joy of living for the Lord comes by trusting God daily, an everyday faith. Paul writes about this in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

Paul’s life became complicated after he became a follower of Jesus. However, he seems to have discovered a joy of living by faith in Jesus that he had never known before. His desire to please the Lord was so compelling that he willingly endured hunger, beatings, shipwreck, imprisonment, and death. He had a daily faith, one that worked for him in all circumstances of life.

I believe we can discover the reason for his positive approach to life in a faith-statement he makes in the letter to the Romans. Read these words aloud and consider the profound effect they can have on your life if you trust the character and integrity of God in this way, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Your adventure in faith can be seen in three ways: past, present, and future. In the past, you put your trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Presently, you continue being saved by your faith in Jesus. In your future, when your life comes to an end, your faith-journey will be over. You will no longer need faith because you will be with the Lord.

Currently, you and I are in phase two of our faith adventure. We are in the world of everyday life of covid, crime, corruption in high places, sickness, with some joys sprinkled here and there. The Lord has saved you and continues to keep you from the power of sin in your life. I want to please Him with my life, and I believe you also do. There’s only one way to do that, the daily exercise of your faith in Him. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that comes to God must believe that He is (exists) and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.” ( Hebrews 11:6).

Remember: Your faith in Jesus is about much more than being saved from hell. Biblical faith trusts God to guide you in your decisions and actions every day. Biblical faith is about how to please the Lord in the nitty-gritty details and challenges of everyday living. God cares about every concern of your life; why not trust Him with it?