PHASES- #1, an Introduction to the Christian life

            Welcome to the Christian life!

stoning_of_st_stephen1625oil_on_oak_panelmusee_des_beaux-arts_lyons“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”–Tertullian

       In the first few centuries, Christianity grew quickly. By AD100, it had become mostly Gentile and had begun to break from its Jewish origins. By 200, the faith had permeated most regions of the Roman Empire, though Christians were mostly in the larger urban areas (Gaul, Lyons, Carthage, Rome). By 325, an estimated 7 million were Christians with as many as 2 million killed for the faith.”http://www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/anceint_christian_martyrdom.htm

The Martyrdom of Stephen, (only 36 at the time of his death) spurred many “Christ Followers” to deeper understanding of the cost of their salvation. Is this what you’ve sighed up for?

Throughout these next few months I will set forth the various Phases of the Christian life, as I see them. Granted, there are many more, or fewer; this is only one early 21st Century writers perspective. Enjoy.

Here is my list of the Phases of the Christian life we will explore.

1.      Deliverence 6.      Discouragement
2.      Delight 7.      Decisions
3.      Discipleship 8.      Dedication
4.      Distraction 9.      Deliverence (again)
5.      Disillusion 10.  Delight

For now, let’s start with the admission that if everything in your life of faith is static, solid, and unchanging, you are not growing in your newfound faith. You are pretending or hiding or deceiving yourself. The Christian life is not a static, once-for-all-time thing. It is a fluid work of art in constant flux.

Get used to it.

Much love,

Gary

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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

Beyond Love Games-Accessing the Power of Christ

Love games, christ, christian, clueless, powerBEYOND LOVE GAMES: accessing the Power of Christ

To move Beyond Our Love Games we need to access the power of Christ. This is both simple and not so simple. If you are not a Christian, bear with me.

Love Games arise from fear: fear of being known, fear of being wounded, of being betrayed…, again. Genuinely trusting another person, especially with the person behind the wall that you have built, can be a frightening thing. Because personal revelation and exposure can be used against you.

This is just as true for Christians as anyone else. So, we hide too. We have just as many phobias and insecurities as anyone else; we live in the same world of hate, anger, risk, duplicity and sorrow as everyone else. Accessing the power of the God who lives inside us is an unfathomable resource when life’s little Love Games come knocking. So stop what you are doing, breathe, take another sip of coffee (or tea), and muse over these ideas.

  • Read vast amounts of Scripture. Like, Genesis, or I & II Samuel, maybe a Proverb-a-day (there are 31); or, all four gospels—over and over. This should get you thinking outside your worry-box. At the very least you’ll become quite familiar with large chunks of Scripture.
  • Try praying where you do not ask for anything. Just listen. Shut up and simply listen for God. [Note- He does not always speak at your bidding. Keep listening.]
  • Start living your life as if you are a forgiven sinner; for so you are. Stop confessing your sins over and over; you are wallowing in them. Dig your way out of the sludge (notice that Hand reaching out to you) and leave the muck & mire behind. No need to dredge them up so you can feel bad about yourself. As Elsa sings in Frozen— “Let it go!” Christ has. You will still sin: and you are forgiven.
  • Put God to the test. God will stand by His Word and stay with you through the Love Games. If you find yourself exhibiting forgiveness, strength-in-pain, a calm resilience, and a heart-felt peace, then you can be sure He is behind it. If not, you are working too hard at doing your Father’s job in your life. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.
  • Try worshipping the Lord with more than your mere mind. Arouse your passions to join with your mind in worship. Our faith is just as much a heart encounter as it is a cerebral engagement. Don’t be fooled that a one-sided faith is a balanced faith. It isn’t. Besides, you need a little imbalance in your faith—it keeps you on your toes.
  • Worship together with other Christians. Here’s a good place to practice—

Hillsong: When I Lost my Heart to You

  • Cease striving. Stop fighting God. He is not sitting up there trying His best to ruin your life. He wants to fulfill it. Give Him room to work His miracles in His way…, not your way.

Keep in mind that accessing the Power of Christ is not a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Its warranty runs out when you stop using it.

Now get on your knees and seek the Father.

NEXT DISCUSSION:  How Love Games Destroy Relationships.

 Empowered,
  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

Learnning to love-different kinds of love

dr gary davis, clueless, christianity, christian, love, meaning, agape, eros,

What are the different kinds of love? The ancient Greeks had at least six words (categories) for love—

EROS, or sexual passion. Not always a safe form of love at that; often considered dangerous loss of control.

PHILIA, or deep friendship. Denoting deep comradery, loyalty, and sacrifice for the other.

LUDUS, or playful love. As between children or young lovers. Or cheerful banter in a local pub.

AGAPE, or love for everyone. Selfless love, extended to all people and even distant strangers.

PRAGMA, or longstanding love. The deep-understanding that develops between married couples. It conveys the compromises we make over time to make a relationship work. Patience. Forgiveness.

PHILAUTIA, or love of self. Describes a love that can be an unhealthy self-obsessed narcissism, OR, a love wherein you are secure in yourself, enabling you to have a greater capacity to love others.

[ http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life ]

As with much of Western Philosophy, compound concepts are grouped under a single word. Thus, the above may be helpful for your understanding, but if we simply recall the numerous relationships we have, it should be obvious that love takes on many shapes. In each love shape the feelings are different, the expressions are different. So also are the degrees of commitment.

Love cannot be discussed solely in a conceptual realm. We need to drag it down to earth, to more human surroundings. When we start talking about love at this level, it forces us to become eminently practical. It is not erroneous to say that to understand love one must first love. So if we are to have any meaningful discussion on love, it truly helps to be in love— with a spouse, a partner, a child, a friend, even a dog. Hopefully, the “other” is reciprocating in some manner which feeds your soul.

So if you want to get into this discussion, ponder the different people you love. How is each love different? How would you describe each feeling? Each different expression? If they all feel the same then something is wrong. If you are expressing your love for your wife the same as you express your love for your car, believe me, something is terribly wrong.

NEXT DISCUSSION: Why does love even exist?!?

Let’s make love an action verb,

Gary