PHASES #3, Delight

gary davis, christian, delight, discovery, life           Welcome to the Christian life! Can’t you just taste that cheesecake with strawberry topping and drizzled chocolate?!? And that huge scoop of cookies ‘n cream ice cream! Yeah…, me too. No? Go ahead…, take a moment to taste it. Yes, now.

            The first days of freedom and realization in the Christian life are like that. You can just taste your whole body smiling. The Delight phase, at least the initial one, is pure hot fudge! My first days as a Christian were a complete Lightness-of-Being. After 3 years of fighting and running from God I gave up; it was as if a tremendous weight that was pressing me down had been lifted off me. I was finally free.

            There is an peculiar sense of peace, of inner-grinning-joy that overcomes you when you realize you are forgiven and set free before God. If there were any subjective evidence of regeneration in Christ, as God’s grace is extended to us, it would be this internal delight.  This inward quiet peace that has a warming, soothing effect.

            Still, for many of us, when we lose our joy and return to a more settled Christian life, we wonder what happened. Let me see if this helps. Remember your first kiss? And the next and the next and the next? Of course you do. Well, as your relationship with Christ develops and deepens, those kisses take on a richer meaning beyond mere passion. They become symbols of your mutual commitment to one another. Your passion morphs into something far more powerful than initially.

            The same is true within your Christian faith. The passion is still there; but it manifests itself differently. It expresses itself in worship, longer times in prayer, and acts of grace to others. Its language takes on more practical and private expressions.

            Now, all this being said, it was a surprise to me that, as I aged, my original passion returned. And it did so within a much more informed, educated, experienced faith. It is a far deeper delight than I might have imagined.

            So as you move through the various Phases of your Christian life, and maybe recycle a few, keep in mind that it isn’t over ‘till you’re dead. You’ve got a few more Phases to grow through.

Reveling in the new reality!

  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

Learning to Love…Again

dr gary davis, love, hurt, relationships, clueless, christian, learning to love again

    “It hurts like hell; and then, one day, it doesn’t.”

-Ari Eastman’s mother.

From I PROMISED YOU

I WOULDN’T WRITE THIS.

 

Learning to love again takes everything you’ve got. You have to relearn trust, transparency, touch, and to risk speaking truth. You have to remember love is more giving than taking; that people are not perfect; that flaws and faults always come with the territory.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” [1 Corinthians 13:11. NKJV]

Learning to love again is a matter of maturity, fortitude, and determination. It does not “just happen.” It is a decision based on ongoing healing and forming new relationships. It is time to take a chance with new experiences that confirm trustworthiness. It is involves making a commitment to dropping your protective shields and allowing another to know you more fully. It is an adult thing to do. Children simply get mad or sullen, but only for a time. Some adults I have known never move beyond. They wallow in hurt, spite, and revenge. They never forgive, or forget. Somehow, they fester vile to feed their anger; what they do not realize is that this venom is slowly poisoning them from within, like a cancer. Let it go!

To overcome your fear and bitterness, your isolation, you will need to awaken these 4 qualities—

  • Trust (risk). We live in community, not separation.
  • Faith. More likely than not relying on God is a much better idea than stubborn independence.
  • Heart. Activating your passions, your emotions, and fear are worth the risk. Learn to feel again.
  • Commitment. Make a decision to commit is stepping out of your comfort zone. You will have to do it sooner or later. To NOT decide, to NOT commit is a decision to die.

Failure to embrace these 4 qualities will leave you in emotional and relational limbo, encased in the darkness of your soul. It will take work to emerge from your cocoon a new butterfly rather than rotting within a decaying caterpillar shell.

Learning to love again will take real effort on your part. Do not love simply as a response to someone else’s love for you. Initiate love from within. Sponges in the ocean have little more function than to suck up the impurities around them. You are not a sponge.

Again, love is a give and take, not the other way around. You must be proactive, not passive.

This concludes our series Learning to love, maybe again or for the first time. Where would like us to go next?

Awaiting with baited breath,

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

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

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