Phases #4 Discipleship

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PHASES— #4, Discipleship

    Welcome to the Christian life!

The word DISCIPLE is from “Old English, from Latin  discipulus ‘a learner,’ from discere ‘to learn’; reinforced by Old French deciple; to follow. Same root to DISCIPLINE ones self.

To be a disciple is to be a learner; it means to sit at the feet of one more learned than yourself and to listen to them, to learn from them.

Following deliverence and delight, the next thing you will experience in your Christian journey is discipleship. That is, a deep desire to know more about Jesus and the context for His leadership in your life. You will hunger to follow His precepts for living, His teachings, His admonistions to live a righteous life within a society that has rejected most, if not everything, of what He represents. Some of the things you will learn are—

1.      Christian faith is much larger than you may have first surmised. It holds a grandeur that exceeds the simple recognitions of trust and forgiveness. It is a way of viewing and living life that extends well beyond the limitations of human intellect and the vastness of the universe itself.

2.      It is learning your place, your role, in the grand scheme of things. The Lord has designed you to make a difference on this planet. How will you discover what that is?

3.      It is taking on the role of a Servant; not when you feel like it, but even when you don’t. We who claim the name of Jesus grow through serving others and in worship of God. How are you doing with that?!?

4.      Righteousness comes more readily as you accept the Father’s design for your life. The more you allow God to sculpture your life the more your desires will coincide with His. We are declared righteous, and so we will grow into it…, one way or another.

5.      You will be able to bear more suffering in your walk of faith. Yes, suffering. Whether from those who reject and ridicule Jesus Christ, or from those who claim His Name and find your faith warrants some correction. Consider first the extent to which they might be right in their judgment; Then turn to the Lord for either admonishment or vindication.

    To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is first and foremost to sit at His feet…, and to learn. Never confuse this with anything else.

 

Growing in grace and forgiveness,

  Gary

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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

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

Escaping Love Games

gary davis,escape, love games,clueless,christian     So…, How are your Love Games going? Had time to implement any ideas from the last Learning to Love article— LOVE GAMES…, and how to play them?  At one point or another we’ve all had to play them. We need, or just want, to protect our hearts. But there comes a time when we simply get tired of playing the game. We want out.

Are you tired of the one-upmanship, the secrets, remembering what we said or did not say, etc.? Do you want straight forward love/trust/transparent relationships? Could you be asking too much? Maybe? Maybe not? We want things cleaned up, straightened out, untangled. Basically, safety. The difficulty is— How do we do it?

If you read the previous entry in this series— LOVE GAMES…, and how to play them, you could start by flipping the 7 points to morph into their opposites.

  1. Get REAL with yourself.
  2. LOOSEN UP. You don’t have to control everything.
  3. LEARN to TRUST others. Seek their best.
  4. TRUST GOD. It’s scary; but what life-changing endeavors in life aren’t?
  5. STOP JUDGING PEOPLE. They are different than you. Measure them by another standard.
  6. SPEAK TRUTH! All of it.
  7. CONSIDER YOUR COURSE. Are you on-target to become the person you know you should be?

The first steps of escaping Love Games are internal. They are frank conversations with yourself about who you actually are. Let go of the projection of yourself you want others to see. Speak the truth to yourself about yourself. You need to resolve to own a new level of revelation and transparency. Up for it?

The next steps of escaping Love Games are more external, more socially interactive. It might be prudent to begin with a smile on your face and an apology in your pocket for being the manipulative jackass you’ve been for so long. “If you put yourself on the bottom, there’s only one direction you can go:  if you put yourself on top… .” ‘Nough said.

Words like confession, submission, humility, and forgiveness should become part of your vocabulary and your lifestyle. These ideas are NOT signs of weakness: they are symbols of strength. Hopefully, you can adjust to them without a radical change in your personality.

God has designed each of us with individual characteristics—strengths and weaknesses. As you know, our strengths often backfire on us and become our greatest weaknesses. Our weaknesses, on the other hand, can often be nurtured to overcome their own inefficiencies and blend within our strengths. You will find that a great deal of shifting around takes place when you are trying to escape your Love Games.

WARNING. TAKE HEART. The majority of the population on our planet play Love Games, including Christians; but we don’t have to. It is only the rare; it is only the strongest and resolute among us who can break free of THE GAME. Doing that outside the readily available power of Christ is extremely difficult.

Jus’ sayin’.

NEXT DISCUSSION:  BEYOND LOVE GAMES: accessing the Power of Christ.

 Carry on, and drink single malt Scotch,

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

Moving Like Jesus

Jesus, sandal, feet, path, walk, shoes, Gary Davis, clueless, christianSome time ago I stopped studying Scripture, at least the Gospels, for what they said about Jesus, and started examining how Jesus moved. I became passionate about where he walked, who he met, the nature of each encounter, his encounters with the religious leaders of his day, and how he dealt with the growing throngs of people who constantly wanted to see more, hear more, and eat more fish.

His empathy with people who were suffering, for those who were Roman, Samaritan, leper or lame he was always the same— a kindness with tangible results. With some, he challenged their ways; with others, he barely interacted at all…, but granted their request when he saw their faith. He was a prophet with power moving among real people with personal, physical needs. And he granted them forgiveness for their sins. Interesting.

There are many books written on The Marks of a Christian, or some such topic. In recent days we have had need to distinguish between “Christians” and “genuine Christians.” Give this list of Marks of a Genuine Christian some consideration.

  1. A genuine heart for God & People. Too many Christians in the West have lost their heart for God. We have replaced compassion for people and focus on Christ with comprehension and knowledge. Knowing Scripture and theology is not inherently wrong; not until it crowds out our love for God and his people. Systematic Theology is no replacement for heart-felt love and action.
  2. Sacrifices for the empowerment of Others. If you are a genuine Christian you will sacrifice your time, energy, and resources for other people. It is the natural out-working of a believer’s love for his Lord. Sacrifice is no sacrifice at all if it is done in love and compassion.
  3. Walks the Roads of Scripture. To balance compassion we must comprehend the breadth and depth of God’s Word on a daily basis. Dr. Cornelius VanTil once said we are to think God’s thoughts after Him. To do that we must learn to enter into the context of Scripture and live alongside her characters from Abraham to Jesus to John.
  4. Walks Among those Who Know Nothing about Genuine Christian Faith. There is no greater way to gain a passion for people than to walk among them, to hear their anger, their rage, and to cry with them in their pain. You want to know what normal people think of Christianity? Spend time with them, drink with them, celebrate with them. Ask them.
  5. Has a Passion for Prayer. “Prayer” has become a flat, non-content word within Christian circles today. What prayer is, truly, are conversations with the God who created you and seeks your best. He seeks company, even though there are times when we really do not want to talk with him. A genuine Christian will desire deep meetings with God, regular extended times of prayer; then, he will be quiet and wait for that still small voice of God in the whisper of the wind. Unless you are me, of course; the Father uses a 2×4 with me; and that’s just to get my attention.
  6. Safe, and Speaks Truth Graciously. A genuine Christian is a person of safety. People are drawn to him because they feel safe. He does not judge: that is a matter for God the Father. He knows when to speak, and when to remain silent. He knows that Truth, real Truth can be quite freeing…, or also extremely painful. His calling is to walk graciously in this world to bring the safety and Truth of God to it.

To be sure, there are many more marks of a genuine Christian. And my list is cursory at best. But do give it some consideration. “To what extent are these things true of me?” What marks me as a genuine follower of Christ to the people in my world? How do I move among them?

For what it’s worth,

Gary
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Making a Difference

difference, clueless, community, christianity, life, We all want to make a difference. Some of us want to make a difference exclusively for ourselves: more money, nicer house, vacation home, BMW 7 series. Nothing wrong with that— except for the “exclusively” part.

Some of us want to make a difference on a local playing field—literally; coaching a sport, serving the elderly, providing meals for the injured, etc. We care about our friends & neighbors.

Fewer of us want to make a difference in the world arena. We become the shakers & movers of world change. We may hold public office and be in the public eye or we may operate under-the-radar, making a difference on the sly. But we keep the world safer and less prone to self-destruct.

The challenge of this EMPulse is obvious.  In what ways are you making a difference in your neighborhood, your community, and the world? Notice the question was not Are you making a difference? Why? Because you are not the one who should provide the answer. The people around you should respond. As for making a difference in the world, giving from your bounty (not from whatever is left at the end of the month) should be a priority. But have you ever sought an audience with Theresa May, Michel Temer, Justin Trudeau, Enrique Peña Nieto or Xi Jinping? Some of us need to do that to make a difference.

Kent Julian, on his BLOG Dream to Do, suggests 7 traits of people who make a difference—

  1. Hard (& smart) worker
  2. Consistency and Perseverance
  3. People-Person
  4. Truth-Teller
  5. Problem-Solver
  6. Lifelong Learner
  7. Delivers the good

If you show evidence of any of these character traits, then you should already be making a difference. Add significant time in Prayer to that list and you become a lethal weapon in the hands of God.

If you do not exhibit any of these traits, why don’t you? Are you afraid of something, or self-absorbed? Or is personal gain that central to your life? Really?!? Isn’t making a difference worth a little sacrifice?

Do you really want to hear our Lord say to you “Depart from me, I never knew you… .” (Matthew 7:23).

We all need to make sure we are making a difference somewhere.

 

Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,

Gary