How to receive

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Gift, ReceivingFollowing my article on How to Give, my thoughts wandered to the other side of the equation. Namely, that some of us have difficulty in receiving gifts. In our day, even a simple gift gives rise to suspicion in the mind of the receiver that “there must be strings attached.” What does he/she want in return? I do not deserve this, so, what’s going on? Thus, another list. J

How to Receive A Seven Point Primer

  1. Accept the gift, responding with gratitude, without any sense of obligation to return one. To do so makes the gift a pawn on a chessboard; it becomes a game, barter, if you will, a contractual relationship, and lessens both the gift AND the giver.
  2. Admit that you do not have everything you need, let alone what you want. Distinguish between the two. Accepting a gift that covers a need is not charity; well, actually it is: but it is charity in its purest form— LOVE. Accepting a gift of desire, be it a gift card to Walmart or Neiman Marcus, are both gifts of love. Respond reverently. [note: I love white chocolate.]
  3. Accept a gift with thanksgiving, especially if given out of a sense of obligation. Whether in an office or extended family, many gifts are given out of a sense of obligation. [Fruit cakes come to mind.] Accept these gifts, no matter how horrible, with external joy and internal wonder. For even gifts of obligation are still gifts. Be thankful.
  4. Accepting a gift, given in sacrifice, will help you grow in humility. Receiving a gift can be particularly difficult when you know that the giver has sacrificed to give you this gift. For whatever reason, they chose to honor you with a gift of their hands, their labor. Why? That is their business. The fact that they have done so should elicit a great sense of humility in you.
  5. Accepting a gift, given in humility, will help you diminish your pride. If it does not, you have a problem. Some people have a grand sense of William Henley’s poem INVICTIS. I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.They are islands, standing alone against the foe, unconnected to family & community by stubborn pride. Gifts become challenges to their independence and individualism.

Really!?! Their pride is not a symbol of their strength, but a sign of their resistance in becoming part of anything beyond themselves. Isolationism in any form is not safe; it is dangerous. So come on, accept gifts given in humility with humility. Make sense?

  1. You cannot give what you have not received. Unless the love of God is in you, you will run out of strength to love others, and yourself. To receive God’s love is to enable yourself to give, and receive, with abandon. ‘Nough said.
  2. Remember, “To whom much is given much will be required.” Receiving gifts should empower you tremendously. Receiving a gift in genuine humility and graciousness will enable you to both love and give with little thought of what you might receive in return. Thus, though much will be required of you, you will be more than willing to give it gladly.

Thank you, one and all!

Gary

How to Give

http://www.giftideasformen.com

In the spirit of this approaching Christmas season (Hanukkah was over the evening of December 5th) it might be a good time to be reminded of some of the principles of giving. Keep in mind that giving should be meaningful, both for the giver and the receiver. Never give out of rote: give because it is right and good.  Ergo—

How to Give—a Seven Point Primer

  1. Give because it is right. No matter what your definition of right is, giving cannot be construed as anything else. It is not a bribe, a peace-offering, or a one-upmanship on the receiver. It must simply be simply right, nothing else.
  2. Give within your means—with some wee bit of sacrifice. It may never be noticed by the other person. That does not matter. It will secretly mean much much more to you.
  3. Give in terms of the other person’s wants and needs, NOT in terms of what you would like to give them. When my wife and I were first married I would always give her clothing; she could have cared less. Didn’t even take the blouse or scarf out of the box. Then I noticed she loved to read: so I gave her books. Guess what? She hugged & kissed me and vanished for three days reading the new book. I learned to give in terms of what she wanted.
  4. Plan for giving. Always try to squirrel away cash-in-a-stash for later giving. It’s freeing! Giving up 2 cups of coffee a week could free up $20 a month. Get the picture?
  5. Get into the practice of giving. Christmas won’t be such a big thing if you already give to others regularly.
  6. Give graciously. Not lavishly, unless if seems appropriate to you. There is little in this life that expresses genuine love like sacrificial graciousness.
  7. Accept ALL gifts with thankfulness and humility. The one giving them has sacrificed for you. Especially be thankful for hand-made gifts, no matter the quality. They are the most precious of all.

Above all, be thankful that you have the means to give anything at all. Not all people on this planet have the resources to give very much. So, if you are one who does, please do not hold back. And always remember the poor in your giving. God does. Please.

Merry Christmas,

Gary

in your face

People who get in your face don’t give you much room. You are certainly not allowed to interrupt. Horrors! In no uncertain terms, any thought of actually contradicting them is totally out of the question. Even a simple interjection is too much for them to handle.

So, they talk. And talk. And talk. If you dare interrupt, they simply talk louder, and/or faster. Why? They have to stay in control; they have to take the dominant position and hang on to it tenaciously. You do not matter; you have nothing to say which interests them. They have all the information they need; they are right; and when they want your opinion they will tell you what it is.

You’re being “preached-at,” scolded, berated, and cornered. I see this most in husband/wife relationships, and between insecure bosses and their employees.

Throughout life there will be those who cross our paths who must dominate, control, assume authority, and come at us, for no more apparent reason other than they believe they are smarter and more right, than we are. In fact, they never truly discover who we are: they just don’t care about it.

How do we handle such people? Unless we really have to go to the bathroom, we truly just stand there as they browbeat us. My best advice? Humility. Let them unload whatever it is on their mind. We recently had a repairman in our home that was passionate about his Christian faith. He may have been excited, but we were left no room to respond. It was a one way conversation.

I hate being preached at. Whether it is some Christian trying to convert me to his point of view, a philosopher-type endeavoring to drive home a universal point of “Meaning,” or a Telemarketing call, I hate it! I am a person with a studied mind, a passionate heart, and a few opinions of my own. What would give me the right to pound my point of view into someone else with no consideration for their thoughts?

Might I suggest that conversations, healthy ones, at least, need to remain give-‘n-take, maintaining dialog more than monolog. Might I suggest graciousness in listening to someone else’s point of view, tempered with wisdom?

Could it be possible that people who are so assertive must preserve that stance because, deep within, they are not really that certain? Give them some room, and some time: everyone deserves a chance to learn, to amend their ways. Still, no one has a right to be in your face…, even me.

Cordially,

Gary

I like my closet

Some days you just don’t feel like getting out of bed. We’ve all been there. The pressures of life weigh in on us so heavily that we lose the strength to face another day. This is especially true around the holidays— gifts to be bought and wrapped, meals to be prepared for the imminent arrival of guests & family. Added demands upon our already frantic lives.

Some of us, yea verily even extroverts, oft seek sanctuary in our closet, whether figuratively or literally. We retreat to a place of momentary safety, a hiding place, where no one can find us. We seek silence, solitude, serenity— commodities sorely lacking in our present pace of life. [Buddhism has a lot to teach us on this subject.] Large companies are scheduling team-building retreats for their managers and department heads; Christians have been going on spiritual retreats for years; Muslims fulfill one of their Five Pillars by making at least one journey to Mecca during their life-time.

There are at least two kinds of closets. The first kind is within us, holding things private, things which are best kept to ourselves. The other one holds us. It is a place for us to gain perspective and strength, to find solace for our soul. It may be a literal closet, or a place of safety—a friend’s home, a favorite bar, a winter hike through snow, a time of reflection, a rich conversation with a confidant over a wee dram of Glenmorangie. [Note: a roaring fire often aids in melting our resistance to search within.]

So as our lives continue to accelerate, make sure you go into your closet often, to your place of escape, to remind yourself who you really are. To be properly equipped to grapple with the daily barrage of activity and information that assaults us, we all need those times of retreat, wherein our focus must be on refurbishing our spirit, building our character, and finding rest for our soul. And may God bless and honor those who have created a closet for me. I’m ready to go in…, how about you?

Closing the door now,

Gary

entitlement

en·ti·tle·ment— def. the fact of having a right to something.

/enˈtītlmənt/ Synonyms— right, prerogative, claim.

We are a society of entitlement. The handout, social welfare, governmental healthcare paid for by others, has produced a generation, or two, or three, of people who expect others to take care of them, or at the least, someone to cover for them, to pick up their slack, to meet their needs. Too many of us believe we have a fundamental right to expect this. People have actually said to me “Why should I work when I can make just about as much by not working”

Not unexpectedly, entitlement has also issued a sense of un-thankfulness among many. A simple “Thank you.” is not in our vocabulary. It has been replaced by the silence of self-deserving expectation. No “thank you” necessary, required, or even considered. How can thankfulness arise from a mindset of I deserve it?

Imagine a world where all of us were thankful for even the simplest of things— bread, a place of shelter, a soft pad on which to close our eyes and sleep, a meal, a friend. Imagine a world where everyone was grateful for what they have been given.

Imagine a world where those blessed with abundance wanted to graciously give to those in need— without bread, without shelter, without a place to lay their head. (Patrick Dempsey comes to mind.) How can we shift an entitlement-mindset to an enrichment-mindset, where people want to contribute to the greater good, to the blessing upon others? THIS is what genuine Christians should be about, immersed in their surrounding towns, neighborhoods, and the world.

In our society we have an abundance. Some of it we have earned; a lot of it we have been given. Give thanks to where it is due. Oh, one more thing…

Thank you,

Gary

assasination

Mohandas Gandhi (1948), John F. Kennedy (1963), Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1941), Abraham Lincoln (1865), Martin Luther King Jr. (1968), Malcolm X (1965), John Lennon (1980), Philip II of Macedon (336 bc) father of Alexander the Great, Empress Myeongseong, Queen of Korea (1895), Park Chung-hee, leader of South Korea (1979), King Henry IV, King of France (1610), Nicholas II, last Czar of Russia (1918), Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan (2007), Commodus, Roman Emperor (192). [taken from— http://www.good.is/posts/the-15-most-infamous-assassinations-in-history  ]

These are some of the more significant people who have been assassinated throughout history. There are more, to be sure. But this short list is unique: each played a role in shaping the lives of those around them on an immediate and world level. Their lives made a difference. Some more, some less.

On a recent trip to Colorado a well-known person of influence asked his leaders, “Would it matter to this state, this city, if our organization ceased to exist? Vanished off the face of the earth? Would anyone miss us?” It was quite the question. There are numerous organizations that this planet could well do without. [No, I will not suggest any lest I be boiled in oil.]

His question prodded me to wonder about the company I run. Would anyone miss us if we ceased to exist? Then it got personal— Would anyone miss me if I ceased to exist?

These two questions, in turn, led to a third— Is my life making a difference? Am I making any significant difference in the lives of those around me? In this nation? In our world?

I repeat, the question I wonder about is this— “Has my life been consequential enough to have made a profound contribution to anyone else?” My life, my passion, my work, have all sought to matter, to leave a gracious legacy to those who take up the torch after me.

How ‘bout you? This is big stuff; worth giving some thought.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

nah nah, nah nah nah

This children’s taunt, is a wonderful reminder that some of us have to be better than somebody else. AND that we have to remind them of it. So there! I’m-better-than-you-are! [Tongue out, thumbs in ears, fingers wiggling.]

At a recent meeting of our Board of Directors one of its members quipped- If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much. Yes, he was of Dutch decent. He was making a point—namely, that it always seems necessary to put someone else down so we can lift up ourselves, our sexual orientation, or our nationality, or pedigree, or race, or team, or whatever. Then we taunt those who are “not like us.” Brilliant!

In our current setting we term this treatment Bullying. It is a problem our school systems and professional sports teams face on a daily basis; of course, it rises up in the home as “sibling rivalry.” Through all attempts to level the playing field, our life-long desire for supremacy infests the spirit of too many of us. On a global scale that usually means other people die. At least in the NFL people aren’t killed. Yet.

Might I suggest we cease taunting each other, putting each other down, and, individually, corporately, even in the global arena, and start encouraging each other in practical, functional ways. Remember the words of Jesus as he started his ministry—

Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be known as sons of God.   (Matthew 5:9)

Not a bad descriptor for anyone, Christian or otherwise.

And please put your tongue back in your mouth before someone pounds your jaw and you bite it off.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Serenity

Even the word feels good as it rolls off your tongue— s e r e n i t y. Like a magic word that calls forth a Genie from a bottle, the word beckons us to come apart to a peaceful place, to find solace, to rest, to be waited upon by a flood of servants! Or merely to be able to close our eyes on a warmed beach under a palm tree, or in a chaise lounge at a mountain retreat.
The serenity I need I find in front of a warm fireplace at the conficated Lakehouse of Alan & Diane Galbraith, deep within the Fall/Winter woods of northern New Hampshire. It is there that I contemplate the deeper questions of life— like…, why my navel is an inny, or how did I ever wind up with such a wonderful wife as Starr, or why couldn’t we have our own children (Josh & Beth are adopted; from this planet, we think), or why God has honored us with His blessings and the privilege of serving others? This emPulse comes to you from my laptop, in front of that roaring fireplace, as I write in deep contemplation and peace.
It seems that every now and again I push myself so hard that I border on collapse. Such was October, and September, and the prior Summer en toto. I didn’t notice it so much as did Starr. Saturday eve, as we climbed into bed, she put her foot down, “That’s it. You’re about to give way to the pressures of caring for people. You’e LEAVING! Go to the Lakehouse and get some rest!” Thus, I are here! Granted, it’s only three days…, but that’s enough for me, I think.
If you haven’t gotten the point of this emPulse yet, let me make it perfectly clear. Any of us can get caught up in the business of life, and work, and family, and other people, so unsuspectingly, that we forget to take care of ourselves— our bodies, our emotions, our spirits, our souls. We start to come apart because we have forgotten to come apart to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, I have a wife who knows when I’ve had enough…, even though I am clueless to the actuality. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. Remember to view yourself as expendable. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. You will be missed when you get away; but you will come back a renewed man, a refreshed woman.
A little serenity goes a long way to clear the mind and restore the soul.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
– John 14:27 Christian Bible

Dr. Gary Davis

Kosher Bacon

This is a strange world.

When Boneless Spiral Ham is marketed as Delicious for Chanukah something is seriously out of kilter. “What’s next?!? Kosher Bacon!?!” Some things just don’t work. They don’t go together.

They’re termed—Oxymoron’s. Amicable divorce, act naturally, authentic reproduction, and the like. Grammatically, they make no sense, except as a play on words or a jest. But in the world of flesh & blood, when things don’t go together there can be serious consequences. For example, making a commitment, while never intending to honor it; whether it be a diet plan, a marriage, an employment requirement, or a peace treaty, breaking commitments is a serious breach of trust.

Business practices are not always complimentary: some are so oppositional that even the business ethic is transgressed. It is the same for systems of government, philosophies of life, and personal value practices; unless there is a clear understanding and coherence to a singular set of standards there will be compromise, corruption, and constant confrontation from divergent perspectives.

It is most likely that some Jews do eat kosher bacon, whatever that is. But they have compromised something to do so. All of us make compromises to make things work together for the common good. But is it worth it to compromise our basic values and beliefs “for the common good?” None of us should hold a principle which we consider good and right, and then shade is as if it were not so good, not so right.

If you are Jewish, then be Jewish; if you are Muslim, then be Muslim; if you are Christian, then be Christian; if you are an atheist, then be an atheist. Know what you believe and have reasons for it. If you do not know what you believe, but merely adhere to the general faith of the thing, well, maybe it’s time you did some review of what you say you hold so dearly as true.

[Note: there was no EMPulse for 09/23/2013 because it was my birthday & I didn’t feel like writing one.]

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Prophet…

Prophet, do you have something to say that is compatible with life?

           Most of us arrive at various tipping points in our lives where it is time for us to change, time for a shift in who we are and how we live. We need to re-think everything about ourselves, from the kind of work we do, to our relationships, to our life perspectives. Or at least we should. We need to ask ourselves some very basic questions about life—

1.      What am I all about?

2.      Is this what I want to be about?

3.      Well, if not this, then what?

4.      Then, what do I need to do to get started?

It is at these tipping points when we most need the perspective and insights of others. It is also at these points in life when we are most vulnerable to the most persuasive voices. There are men and women among us with prophetic voices that are able to guide us along a healthy path to fulfill our journey with meaning and a sense of completion.

But there are also false prophets who just want a following; they claim to have an edge on the truth, special insights into your life that you should follow. They can be health guru’s, business advisors, life coaches, spiritual advisors, or simply good drinking buddies you listen to…, 8 beers in. Really!?!

How do you determine if your particular brand of prophet, or consultant, counselor, advisor, knows what they are talking about?

1.      Listen carefully; then get a second, or third, or fourth opinion.

2.      Scrutinize their lives to discover if they are taking their own advice, living by their own principles.

3.      To what extent are they considering the risks you will be taking based on their advice?

4.      To what extent are they coming alongside you? To what extent sending you out on your own?

Finding a voice to trust is no simple matter. It involves a good bit of trial and error—especially error. In my formative days I played with the Bible with some degree of philosophical skepticism and child-like disbelief. The whole thing seemed no more than fanciful stories. Except for the stories of Jesus—his stories seemed compatible with life the way I saw it around me. His stories seemed to fit life; my life. Thus, my conversion to the Christian faith was prompted more by philosophical investigation than anything else.

If Jesus were asked then, or now, “Prophet, do you have anything to say that is compatible with life?” he would more than likely not answer. Rather, he would continue teaching the principles God had sent him here to teach and live a life that backed up his claims, leaving his credibility to our discretion.

For what it’s worth,

Gary