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Response: The Science is IN: God is the Answer April 3, 2015

Posted by needinc in emPulse, Faith in Culture, Journey, Relationships.
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Religion, God, Spirituality, Dr Gary, Davis, Clueless, ChristiansFor people within the sphere of religion, any religion, Brian Bethune’s & Genna Buck’s article The Science is IN: God is the Answer (McCleans, 30 March 2015), comes as no surprise. People raised in secure loving religious homes tend to have greater skills at facing the realities of adulthood. Children raised within this kind of environment tend to be better equipped at re-defining themselves when they reach both puberty and that “ah-ha” moment we now define as “individuation.” i.e. that phase in life wherein a child ceases to define his/her-self in terms of their parent’s values and creates their own value system, beliefs, and life priorities. Granted, this can be a time of trial & error run amuck; but, hey, that’s what growth and transition are all about. If you get it right the first time, you’re holding on way too tight!

            That being stated, I have encountered a LARGE number of twenty-somethings, who come from religious families— conservative Christian, liberal Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim (Sunni/Shiite), and others, who are a psychological mess. Their lives have no borders or boundaries; they can’t make a decision about anything; commitment to anything is terrifying; and their ties to any belief system change hourly. “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

            I’m sure Lisa Miller’s (the researcher who studied this topic for 18 years) efforts yielded factually supported data. But I wonder if she ever actually met an adult child from a conservative Christian family? Or Catholic family? Or modern-day Jew? There is very little faith left to their religion. They are, in effect, practical “religious-atheists” who call upon their religious roots in times of disorientation or trouble and then quickly return to their lives as really nice people.

                Our societies search for spirituality outside of faith has only yielded a feel-good-faith; certainly not one that will hold up under the pressure of postChristian non-presuppositions about why it’s not all about me. It is, ya know.

What a difference a “mindset” makes. W April 2, 2015

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What a difference a “mindset” makes. When we make room for other points of view we open the door for God to work.
http://ow.ly/L7RpL

Getting lost February 9, 2015

Posted by needinc in emPulse, General, Journey, Perspectives, Relationships, Wisdom.
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Lost, Thoreau, Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, risk, reflectionMost of us, at some time or another, will get lost. It may be as simple as getting lost on back roads or forgetting where your glasses are; or, more seriously, getting lost in life; that is, losing your sense of direction, purpose, and/or identity. In short, you no longer know where you are, who you are, or where you are heading.

A dead stop.

In the midst of that empty confusion certain questions start to arise—

How did I get here? What could I have done differently? How do I start to dig out of this mess? More importantly— How do I find myself again? Who am I now? What do I do next?

Anxiety starts to immobilize your spirit; you cannot take any action for fear of further failure. But you have to do something. Anything! Here are some of the things I’ve done when I’ve gotten lost.

1.      I start taking small steps. What are the little things you can definitely accomplish that will bring some semblance of stability or order to your life? Do that. Then do another one.

2.      Keep in mind that when you are lost everything is a risk. Things you used to do as a simple matter have now morphed into insurmountable monsters. Nonetheless, you must face those monsters to overcome them. I had to. And I corralled a cadre of friends to stand by me as I faced them.

3.      Don’t ask God to do for you what you must do yourself. He is definitely in charge. But we are not mindless robots. He expects us to act responsibly with the time He has given us.

4.      God can’t direct a parked car. Start moving. If it’s in the wrong direction, He’ll redirect you.

5.      Establish NEW points of reference for your journey. The former points of reference are gone; you’ve already passed them. If you want to find your way again, you’ll need to discover a whole new set of reference points to guide you. I find I need to cut back on my activities to give my mind, and heart, time to process the mental & emotional shift. What will most likely be the next sign along your path that you are getting back on track?

With all the variables we have to juggle these days it’s easy to get lost along the way. You have to work hard to get back on track. So get to it. Drive! You will not stay lost for long. [Proverbs 16:3.]

Honor God, honor people…, make a path,

  Gary

New Year’s Warnings December 29, 2014

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New Years 2015. Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Warnings, Consider this LIST…

            Now that our world’s financial situation is more secure, given the amount of consumer spending that took place at Christmas/Chanukah, we must rush to plan our New Year’s Eve celebrations in less than a week. And, frankly, I love the way we have come to say good-bye to the last year and WELCOME! to the new year.

The celebrations set forth the expectations of hope and accomplishment in the weeks & months to come; with the exception, of course, of weight-loss. Let’s not get the New Year off on a bad foot.

In keeping with this theme, allow me to offer some of the life-long-learning precepts I’ve stumbled upon along the way.

1.      Plan for your summer family vacation within the first two weeks of January.

2.      Take a New Year’s Day hike somewhere…, anywhere; except over fields of landmines.

3.      Look at next year’s financial picture while you watch football. IT mixes the serious with the sublime. You can decide which is which.

4.      If you are married, ask your wife/husband how you can love them MORE next year.

5.      Set personal goals for your work-performance. It is not about getting that promotion: it is about making a difference in your workplace and in the lives of your fellow employees.

6.      Plan to give $$$ away this coming year—lots of it. You will have more $$$ if you do. Don’t ask me how this works; it simply does. Trust me on this.

7.      Eat out at a nice place once a month. It will remind you of your aspirations; and oh, tip big.

8.      Avoid death, but take some scary risks in the New Year. You need to remind yourself how precious yet fragile life really is.

9.      Face some of the BIG questions. “Where did all this stuff come from?” “Do I have a place in the grand scheme of things?” “What is it?” “How do I show love?” “How do I receive love?” “Am I ready to face my Maker?” “Who will win the Superbowl?” “Describe “God.”

10.  Remember to breathe. You know what I mean.

There…, that should give you some things to think about during commercials. Forget making New Year’s Resolutions…, just DO this list.

Happy New Year!

  Gary

Loving Others December 9, 2014

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needinc:

Amen! Don’t wait, just love on people!

Originally posted on Open Life Up:

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“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”

~ Bob Hope

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Troubled November 10, 2014

Posted by needinc in emPulse, Journey, Perspectives, Rejuvination, Wisdom.
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Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Troubled, Crisis, Troubles, despairWhat troubles you? Money? Family? Relatives? Competition at Work? Feelings of failure? Emptiness? Mistrust? The list goes on. There are so many things that can get under our skin and irritate us without let-up. Some of us live our entire lives in frustration, crisis mode, turmoil. Nothing is ever settled. Nothing ever seems to work out. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) put it best—

Double, double toil and trouble;

 Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

~Macbeth

            In life, troubles will come; that’s a given. The issue is how we face them when they do come. Some people ignore their troubles, believing if they don’t address them they will go away. They won’t. Others put their troubles out of their mind, pretending they don’t exist. They do. Still others face their problems but have little hope of overcoming them alone. Yet they push on, commiserating with no one.

Most of us are troubled about something-or-another most of the time. Something is always troubling us. So please forgive me if I offer this sound, if risky, advice.

1.      Start with a thoroughly gut reaction! Cry, yell, sulk, hit something (not someone). If your emotions are raw, let them be raw. When something is eating away at your core you need to address it first at a primal level of gut reaction. Then, walk away. Get over it! After some time has passed, even within the same day, regain your composure and start to think clearly, peacefully. Address the issue head on. A true friend may be needed to give you honest advice..

2.      If you are an external processor, talk with a trusted friend who has some wisdom. If you are an internal processor, get alone for an extended time period; ruminate. Drink tea & remain calm.

3.      DO SOMETHING. What should be done first to solve this problem? What RESOURCES can be drawn upon to help you?

4.      Evaluate if your actions made a difference. To what degree did they help toward a solution to these troubles?

5.      What’s next?

6.      Pray for God’s wisdom and insight. You are not in this alone. If you do not believe in God or prayer, do it anyway. There might be a big surprise in the light at the end of the tunnel. (NO, not a train.)

7.      Learn to ask the questions that need to be asked; even if it turns out that YOU are the problem.

There are very few troubles that come our way that do not have a solution. Whether it comes from private pondering or picking the brains of our friends, or turning to God, these are always ways to face our fears and our foes, and to overcome them. DO NOT give up!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

Death with Dignity November 4, 2014

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Brittany, Maynard, Death, Dignity, Compassion, suicide, Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christian, HemmingwayDeath with Dignity— Brittany Maynard, 19 November 1984 – 3 November 2014

(CNN)—  Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old who said she had terminal brain cancer, took medication to end her life under Oregon’s ‘Death with Dignity Act,’ advocacy group Compassion & Choices said Sunday.

“Brittany chose to make a well thought out and informed choice to Die With Dignity in the face of such a terrible, painful, and incurable illness,” a post on her website said. “She moved to Oregon to pass away in a little yellow house she picked out in the beautiful city of Portland.”

In a statement, Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy group that has been working closely with Maynard, said she “died as she intended – peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones.”

 

Brittany Maynard was an incredible young woman. She lived her life as she saw fit. And she ended her life as she saw fit; not enduring the agony of a terminal brain cancer, but rather choosing to die with dignity, foregoing further deterioration and suffering.

Some years ago my friend Tom faced the same choice. At age 24 he started feeling like something was very wrong. It was. His body was spotted with all kinds of cancerous cells. Like Brittany, he too made it almost to his 29th birthday, dying just 3 days before. Unlike Brittany, Tom chose to endure the pain and suffering, the loss of mobility and, eventually, mind. His death, too, was surrounded by family and friends.

Why did Tom make his decision to suffer to the end, rather than to end his life with dignity? Tom trusted in God for his life and did not believe he had a right to tamper with the decision to end it.

So, what is it to die with dignity? In Brittany’s heart and mind she believed she made the honorable, dignified decision. Tom made a different decision. Was his death any less dignified than Brittany’s? This comparison raises a serious philosophical question. Death is a complex issue. Who is the final arbiter of our passing? Soldiers sacrifice their lives for the lives of their comrades-in-arms; family members willingly put their lives on the line to save a brother, a sister, a child, a wife. But giving your life for another is not the same as taking your own life. The first is sacrificial; the second is self-centered.

The question is— Do we have the right to make the decision to end our life? In many ways I can understand Brittany’s decision. In so many other ways, I cannot. It benefited her tremendously, I suppose. But it also deprived those she loved the experience of processing her death with her; through pain, suffering, disorientation, and the end. But can we truly call it death with dignity when her death was actually assisted suicide? She believed she was dead already. I believed she deprived those who loved her from their responsibility and joy of caring for her to the bitter end.

Determining the morality of Brittany’s decision is something we need to discuss in this culture. Her choice should give us pause about our own ethic, or lack thereof, when facing our own mortality. We really do not want to think about such things until our own life is at stake.

If the truth be known, we chose not to think much about anything smacking of ultimate realities. It is simply much easier to let life carry us on from one event to the next. This is not very smart. Sooner or later we will all have to face the tougher questions in life— some sooner than later. But if we do not face them, life will seem very cruel when it takes us by surprise.

If we accept Brittany’s choice to take her own life (suicide) then we have progressed (?) to the point of convenient functionality in our society. If your father is failing, help him end his life. If your child is dying, do the same. Or maybe we need to establish a maximum age, say 70, beyond which the elderly are deemed non-productive and useless in contributing further to our society.

Really!?!

We have finally fulfilled Earnest Hemmingway’s social prophesy—

“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

~For Who the Bell Tolls (1940)

Trick or Treat – an Opinion October 31, 2014

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Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christians, Halloween, Trick or treat, Holiday  Early this morning I came across this post—http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2002/11/Tract-Or-Treat.aspx . It reminded me of how ridiculously out-of-hand and warped our perspectives can become.

When I was a young trick or treater I groveled and grabbed all the Halloween goodies if could. No discrimination, just grab! Upon my return to the warmth of our kitchen to sort out my loot, I found one of those “Chick-Tracts©” among my booty. I glanced at it briefly and dove back in to produce my own delirious, personal sugar high.

Now older I’ve come to believe many Christian evangelistic efforts at Halloween to be offensive. We seem to be quick to condemn this “pagan” festival that was once a Protestant Christian celebration— Reformation Day. But just how “pagan” is it NOW?

In our culture at large Halloween has risen to little less than a dentist’s dream! Our God took a pagan festival and turned it into a candy fest for kids…, ok, and their parents.! Now…, do we have a creative God or what!?!

But for those of you who still want to use Halloween for evangelism, allow me to offer some more appropriate ideas.

1.      Join in the festivities with other parents, freezing together as you trek alongside of your kids.

2.      Gather back at your place for the kids to sort out their loot and to swap their goodies.

3.      Gather the adults in another room for hot mulled cider and cider donuts. Build relationships. Let the conversation flow where it will.

4.      DO NOT use Christianeze to explain your faith! Normal people have no clue what these terms mean— sin, salvation, saved, born-again, redemption, etc. Find culturally appropriate phrases to translate Christian faith into a language people can understand. Like— “We need to reconnect with the God who made us.” or, “Jesus Christ can sustain your life and give it meaning.”

5.      ASK QUESTIONS. Do NOT try to get YOUR point across. Learn to LISTEN to other people’s view on life…, and Halloween…, and criticisms of Christianity.

6.      Shift from mulled cider to wassail. This will deepen the level of conversation. Mostly.

7.      END EVERYTHING in under an hour. Kids gotta sleep; so do we.

One of the criticisms of too many of us Christians, is that we are no fun. Making Halloween an evangelistic event is one more piece of evidence that we are truly out of step with the world around us. Tracts and the like may be good in some parts of our society, but I’d be hard pressed, in this postChristian culture to find the place.

We are admonished to “Be in the world, but not of it.” (-John 17:15-17) So, in all the festivities surrounding Halloween (All-Hallowed-Eve) let us not partake of all its rituals and pagan roots. But, please, be in this world, at least as much as it involved entering a cultural celebration of family & candy. You will surprise your friends, and delight your dentist. Selah.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

#VirtueCampaign – Judgment Stinks October 21, 2014

Posted by needinc in Communcation, emPulse, Faith in Culture, Perspectives, Relationships.
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We need to get this. We need to put out the effort and start thinking about being a Christian in this society, instead of running commando raids into it and coming back and debriefing.
Never, ever DO evangelism, instead look at the way Jesus moved among the people. Did He explain “the Gospel” the same way to each individual? No, it was dependent upon who He was talking to. Go and Do likewise.

preemptive positioning May 14, 2014

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Dr, Gary, Davis, restitution, reconciliation, Clueless, Christianity, NEEDinc, posturing, positioningIn time of war a preemptive strike is meant to give “first strike advantage.” Strike first, surprise the enemy, and win the day. The same is true in much of the world economy, interpersonal relationships, and politics. It’s all about positioning. [I wonder if we even play this game with God.]  Humans tend to want the higher ground in all creation. We need to win, to be right, to dominate in business, in interpersonal relationships, and in our general mindset that—

I am always right!

            We hold and assert preemptive presuppositions on just about everything.

“There is NO God!”  “There is only One God!” 

“God is on our side!”

“Killing anything, anyone, ever, is wrong!”

“War is always wrong!”  “Peace at all costs!”

“All men are pigs!”  “All women are manipulative!”

“Eating meat is wrong.” “Vegetarians are stupid.”

You get the picture. We position ourselves as judges over other peoples’ life-choices so we can pontificate for our position. In so doing we dismiss their thinking with little comprehension, let alone compassion, for what they value and hold dear. THAT is what makes such positioning both presumptive and preemptive. We drift naturally toward winning the debate more than considering the person or society so different from our own.

            Is this what we want out of life? To be on top? To control? To win at any cost? Granted, there are many things worth fighting for; some worth dying for. But to start with a preemptive strike, and continuing to annihilate your adversary’s position, and/or life, does not add much to human dignity, let alone reconciliation and restitution.

            May I proffer that a preemptive strike may win the day, but hardly the war. For a peoples’ values and beliefs run deep; defeating your enemy may give birth to generations of aggressors against you. I’ve always found Jesus’ words to be of some value— “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Probably something we should all work at a little more. For it calls on the greater power, be it a nation or individual, to create a path of peace. This is hardly our world’s operating procedure today. Contrary to Vince Lombardi’s, Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, maybe it is the peacemakers who are the ones who truly win.

  Gary

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