Closing Doors #5 A Sliver of Light

prayer_for_usaAs we follow Christianity across the ocean to the Americas you must, by now, see that I have been covering large swaths of history in a single ¾ page offering. This has been unfair. Excellent books have covered far less time periods in far more pages. So this will be the final entry in my cosmic fly-over of the church and its interface with the world around it.

     From 1850 to the present, colossal revolutions swept the Church. The rise of American denominationalism, the struggle over the slavery issue, the Civil War, two World Wars, terrible conflicts in Vietnam, Korea, the Middle East, and a seemingly endless cold war with Russia have overshadowed the Church’s stance in the public forum.

     Add to that the divisive nature of “Christian” personality cults, our flip-flops during the civil-rights movements, and Westboro Baptist Church’s antics, have all placed the Church at odds with the secular society around us. More recently, the conundrum over LGBTQ issues and the “cocooning” of many evangelical churches and ministries, the faith we love is pretty much a joke for the majority of the nation.

     On the plus side, the field meetings of Charles Finney, the urban popularity of Billy Sunday, and the incredible ministry of Billy Graham have done much to keep a positive spin on the true nature of the Christian faith. The ‘70s Jesus People ushered in a new face for a more youthful Christian expression. And where would we be without contemporary Christian music (Hillsong, Rend Collective); even the mainstream music industry has to take notice.

     So how do we keep these doors open so the waiting world can at least see a sliver of light of who we are?

     Well, at the least we need to unlock the doors from our side. Replacing Kingdom language (King, Lord) with less medieval constructs might be a good place to start. And fewer thee’s and thou’s mighteth help. Charles & John Wesley utilized popular well known tunes and put Christian lyrics to them. We’ve got a good jump on that; let’s keep going.

     90% – 95% of Church activities revolve around itself. Think we could change that?!? And what about revising that judgmental attitude toward others?!? Maybe a little more forgiving this time around?

     We could, believe it or not, get involved in local government, or run for public office! Maybe even start a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, or a CEO’s Confidentiality Consortium. When I lived in the northeast, I was asked to join the Pioneer Valley Gentlemen’s Whiskey Association because I was a Christian. Go figure. Opening doors.

     God does not want any of us to spend the rest of our days cloistered inside our churches: well, unless you‘re the Pope; and even ee gets out!

     Our place is one of intermingling with the people of our society; both with those of influence and those who don’t have a place to sleep tonight. What has the Lord called you to? Get there. And bring the peace, forgiveness, and joy of our Lord with you.

 … a glimmer in the dust,

  Gary

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Closing Doors #4 The power and the glory?

img_8814     From 1,000 to 1,500, Europe saw unprecedented changes in virtually every aspect of life. The Black Plague and a “Mini Ice-Age” [1312-1850] had decimated the population, while the crop failures of 1315-1322 devastated the economy and the population. The Church in Europe had sunk to the level of feudal governance, charging their adherents for everything—baptisms, funerals, penances, and indulgences (to buy their way into heaven).

     The priesthood became exorbitantly powerful and wealthy. During the famines and cold weather they were able to wear warm, elegant clothes and live in luxury, while the hoi polloi could barely keep their rags mended. The Church also had a plentiful storage of food: at one point, wheat prices rose by 320% (France).  It was these extravagances, practices and heretical theology that led a monk in Germany, one Martin Luther, to lash out in protest against the Catholic Church. His actions resulted in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.

     Alongside the Church, the rest of Europe witnessed great strides in technology, art, and exploration. The “new world” was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Themovable type Printing Press, invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1455, ushered in the first days of the Information Age. In architecture and art, grandiose style of Baroque prevailed. Albrecht Durer (Praying Hands) imported Italian influence into Germany. Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo became the quintessential artists who developed perspective in their paintings and sculpture. Hayden, Handel, Bach, and Mozart scored complex orchestral pieces. Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Johannes Kepler proposed a heliocentric (not geo-centric) understanding of our solar system.

     The idea of human reasoning as a way of determining Truth was proposed by René Descartes. The idea of common sense came from John Locke. These philosophers, and others, influenced the ideas found in the U.S. Constitution.

     In the midst of all these revolutionary inventions, discoveries, new ideas and technologies, where stands the Church? In two words— wealthy and split: no longer between East and West, but between Catholic centralism, and Protestant diversity and expansion. The new Protestant ideologies fostered a rise in creative reorganization and reconstruction. In some ways, this freed Christian thinkers to reexamine Scriptural Truths in the light of the cultural and scientific revolutions of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Protestant churches became the churches of the people, rather than the authoritative dominance of the clergy in the Catholic Church.

     But things were changing. Between 1500 and 1850 the relationship between the Church and her surrounding cultures witnessed great strides in compassion, but also great assaults from the spread of Enlightenment and Renaissance ideologies. Eventually, even American individualism spread throughout Western Culture…, and the faith, with both positive and negative effects. A new secularism in the Church began to erode her influence in our world.

     True, the Church had finally opened her doors to the outside world— and she had lost her healing edge.

 In…— not of,
  Gary

You are how you love

love games. Dr gary davis, clueless, christian, relationships, personality Love is a peculiar thing. Every individual has their own Love Language. Gary Chapman categorized The Five Love Languages (1995) for us—

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving (giving) Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

Most of us fit into one (or more) of these five ways of wanting to be loved.

Our personalities have a great deal to do with the way we want to be loved…, and how we love. [If you have not thought much about your personality I encourage to take these two “personality identifier” tests. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test (the MBTI) here— http://www.personalitypathways.com/type_inventory.html, and the DISC test here— https://discpersonalitytesting.com/free-disc-test/ . They are great fun and quite informative. Enjoy! And don’t copy.] Learning how to love another person is just as important as actually loving them.

If you truly want to know how to love another person put your agenda aside and observe the other; a.k.a.- learn their ways. What do you see? Do they like heat? Chocolate? Tech stuff? Promptness? Silence? A good book? Vegan? A good steak? Honesty and transparency? Time alone? Or, time outside…, wandering? Putting out some effort to discover how another person wants to be loved is one of the clearest indications of genuine love.

When my wife and I were first married, I would often buy her quite nice articles of clothing. No response. It took me a good five years to learn that she did not care that much for clothes, style, “outfits,” etc. She loved books. Once I even snatched a bundle of her books, took them to a book store and asked “What are these and do you have any more like them?” I bought her a book. She was elated!

I was loving her the way I would want to be loved, not the way she wanted to be loved. The same goes for friends and fellow employees. Before you give your friend a box of Havana’s, better find out if he smokes. If you want to give your boss a nice pen, better find out if she even uses one…, or constantly loses them.

Our personalities and preferences hold great sway over the way we love other people. We need to learn how to love them the way they want to be loved— in a safe other-centered way. Furthermore, if I might add, do not love expecting anything in return. For if you love to provoke a love-response from the other you are, in truth, loving yourself. You may want or need their love but do not love them to get it. Love them selflessly, expecting nothing in return. That is truly LOVE.

Your personality does have a lot to do with the way you love people, how you love them. Get a grip on your personality. If you do not want to take a test, ask your friends the brutally honest question, “How do I come across to you? To other people?” Give some diligent consideration to what they say. O, hell, take the test anyway. It’s fun. Do it in a group with goodies to munch during the subsequent discussion.

You truly ARE how you love. Learn what that means.

NEXT DISCUSSION:  LOVE HURTS!

 Now buying my wife British murder-mystery novels,

Gary

How love games ruin relationships

Dr Gary Davis, rock, stubborn, love, games, clueless, Christian

Let’s start with an article from Psychology Today, 7 Behaviors that Ruin a RelationshipAugust 8, 2016. Let’s use Dr Lisa Firestone’s seven points as a starting point. (Italics mine.)

  1. Having angry reactions to feedback instead of being open to it. View any disagreement with your way of thinking as an attack.
  2. Being closed to new experiences instead of open to new things. Never do anything for the first time.
  3. Using deception and duplicity instead of honesty and integrity. It is far more important that you never let them know who you really are. Living a life of honesty and integrity can expose you to manipulation and exploitation. HIDE!
  4. Overstepping boundaries instead of showing respect for them. Never allow another person to be their own person. They have no rights or boundaries. You are in control.
  5. Showing a lack of affection, and inadequate, impersonal, or routine sexuality instead of physical affection and personal sexuality. Withholding love and affection for another is the cruelest way of hurting them. It puts you in control of the relationship instead of making your relationship’s health the central focus.
  6. Misunderstanding instead of understanding. Understanding another person’s mindset or opinion is not important to you. You don’t need to understand them. They must simply obey you without question.
  7. Being manipulative, dominant, or submissive. Whether you are trying to be the passive one, or the dominant manipulative one, you goal is to be in control. This is a perfect way to destroy a relationship.

Dr. Firestone’s article nails it on the head. Keep others OUT: tower over as much around you as possible.  React, conceal, stealthily rule; do not engage in any positive affirmation. Intentionally withhold love, trust, transparency, and truth. Basically, ingenious ways of wounding another person (or group) deeply.

Or, more directly, if you want to destroy a relationship, be it with your wife, lover, employer, or friend, you have the tools and spirit within you to do it. But before you do, certain things need to be in place—

  1. Harden your heart. Make sure you are callous enough to ignore the affects you are creating for the other to bear. Your intention is to be cold and callous, inconsiderate of any pain you are causing.
  2. Prepare for the consequences. Coldly treating someone may reverberate in a whiplash of vitriolic retribution against you, and those you know.

Or, you could seek forgiveness and reconciliation with the other. This is Not eating-crow, or groveling (unless a little groveling is necessary). This is admitting that neither you or the other person, or group, are perfect. It takes a much stronger person to seek forgiveness and reconciliation than to merely destroy the relationship.

Choose your course of action wisely.

NEXT DISCUSSION:  Your Personality and the Way You Love: you are how you love.

 Familiar with the taste of crow,

Gary

Love games., and how to play them

dr gary davis, clueless, love, christian, amherst, communication, games, love gamesLOVE GAMES. We’ve all played them at one time or another. Not something I’m proud to admit; but I have too.

We learn to play love games because we’ve been hurt, wounded. We learn to not trust, to not be open, to guard ourselves. We play them because we want to protect ourselves, our hearts, from further pain. Nothing wrong with that!?! At first. But after a while we grow a shell around our souls, like the crust on an apple pie; just not as tasty.

In marriage, partners guard their love, withhold their deepest fears and desires from the other. In business, we learn to play our cards close to our chest, revealing just enough that will still allow us to hold the upper hand. It’s business; not personal. With friends, we might dare confide, unless we have been betrayed before. After that, no one really knows us. We always hold something back.

We even play love games with God. We pretend to serve Him when we are secretly seeking recognition for our own actions. We give to the poor in a shielded, cautious manner, making sure we don’t forfeit our own safety or security. Or indulgences. Sacrifice?!? That’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

Love Games are a part of life. We use them to protect ourselves. At some point, though, they can dominate our souls and shut out the world so thoroughly that we trap ourselves within our own fortress.

Is there any way to safeguard ourselves within this self-imposed isolation, these ostensibly compulsory love games? Well, yes…, but you will have to work hard. Here are some ideas for you to bring your best to your love games—

  1. NEVER be real with yourself. There are real dangers in discovering a deeper understanding of who you really are. Best to remain content with your fanciful projection of yourself.
  2. NEVER lose control. You must regulate everything around you. Leave no variance in your realities. Surprise is your enemy.
  3. NEVER trust others, especially your fellow workmates. They may gain your complete confidence in the beginning, but be careful; they will outshine you in time. That is exactly what you don’t want. NEVER enable people to become better than you.
  4. Above all else, DO NOT TRUST GOD! To do so puts you in too precarious a position. You never know what He is going to do with you or your situation. Letting go of the game to give God control over your life is a very risky move.  Trusting God will make your life and livelihood far more exciting in the long run, but do not be concerned with that. Better to stay safe now than to trust your future to some unknown God.
  5. MAINTAIN YOUR JUDGMENTS OF OTHERS. TRUE, they are not designed to be like YOU. They are inferior. Above all else you MUST win. It is not your job to empower lesser people to succeed.
  6. NEVER TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH. Subtleties, nuances, and innuendoes will do just fine and enhance your odds of winning the game.  Always withhold something. NEVER reveal all:  NEVER say what you actually mean.
  7. NEVER CONCERN YOURSELF ABOUT WHO YOU ARE BECOMING; just play the game and blend in until it is time for you to take control. Taking the time to evaluate and recalculate your direction is a waste of your time.

Still want to keep playing love games? Maybe…, maybe not? Tune in for our next discussion.

NEXT DISCUSSION:  Escaping Love Games.

 Your turn…,

Gary

The dangers of not being loved

gary davis, clueless, christian, love, plumb, unlovable     The effects of being unlovable, or not being loved, are horrible. If you don’t know that, you’ve either never been truly loved, or never been in love. REJECTION cripples us to a point where it is difficult for us to function, let alone breathe.

Let’s start this discussion with a music-vid from Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, known in the music world as Plumb. (www.plumbmusic.net) Please enjoy the lyrics and presentation of unLovable—  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnDfi9VlBI4 .

What were the questions raised in the music? How did she convey her longing to us? What were your thoughts? Your feelings? Or…, maybe you had no response whatsoever. What does that tell you about yourself?

Some of the results that follow extended periods of NOT being loved are—

  • Self-Isolation
  • Insecurity
  • Fear
  • Unrealistic self-image
  • Loss of desire to love or to be loved
  • Lost ability to trust or believe anyone
  • Loss of feeling or being safe anywhere

Have you experienced any of these symptoms? If you have, there IS something you can do!

You can start loving other people. There may not be any feelings underneath your actions; they may come later; or, they may not. That is not the point. ACTION that you initiate is. Love is a decision.

I’ve heard of some Christians who do loving actions so God will reward them for it. Seriously?!? Think about this. It’s still all about ME! You can do nothing that will make God love you any more than He does.

In my personal life I have learned that loving other people comes easily when I expect nothing in return. This has only been possible because of my acceptance of Christ’s love for me. DOING loving actions for others often produces feelings of love after the fact. The trick is to love freely and openly. If you want some “loving” response from the people you have loved, then, actually, aren’t you loving so you will get something out of it?

Here’s your homework assignment— Make a conscious effort to love someone who people consider unlovable, or even lovable. See how it affects you.

 

NEXT DISCUSSION: Love Games and how to play them.

 

How do you say “I love you?

Gary

How does love affect us?

gary, davis, love, live, heart, affect, christian, clueless

Your first thought should be, “You’re kidding right!?!” Everyone knows how love affects us. Do we? From The World of Psychology comes these ideas on How Being in Love Affects Your Personality. https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/05/30/the-science-of-love-9-ways-being-in-love-affects-your-personality/ .

  1. You’re a Combination of Happy and Anxious.
  2. You’re Addicted.
  3. You’re Capable of Taking More RISKS.
  4. You’re Over-the-Top Overprotective.
  5. You Can’t Focus.
  6. You’re Confident
  7. If You’re Neurotic, You Become Stabilized.
  8. You Don’t Judge.
  9. You’re Smarter.

In short, your dopamine level propels you to heights you never thought you could achieve. But it’s not simply chemical. That’s merely a scientific analysis.

Being LOVED is an enabler, a foundation, a definer, a source of personal strength, a reference point, and a reflective mirrorof who you are. When you know you are loved you feel safe, secure, and in a place where things make sense. This is true of romantic love, family love, brotherly love, or familiar love. Love provides the context for so much of our life that it can never be underestimated.

NOT being loved creates a vacuum in us which is not always filled by wonderful things! Just the opposite; we replace a healthy human love with a self-promoting, self-aggrandizing love. This kind of love may seem fulfilling at the moment, but in the longer view creates isolation, protective walls, and a façade we want others to see. Choose your loves wisely.

There is yet another effect of love on us. It stems from the love that we give to others. Because if love is to be grasped to the fullest, it not only must be received, but given. Dare I say that if you have difficulty receiving love, you will have equal difficultyexpressing love. Love’s manifold facets affect us in the giving and receiving of it; its volume expands exponentially as it is given. For that is what grounds love in its fuller context.

So, if I may ask, How’s your love life? Are you being loved in such a way that it fills your life? Are you loving another that enhances your own life (& theirs, of course)? Or do you find it hard to love or be loved? These are the kinds of questions to talk over with your spouse, a good friend, or a counselor.

 NEXT DISCUSSION:  What are the effects of NOT being loved? Of NOT loving?

 How do you say “I love you?

Gary