Beyond Words: Take 4 – A Personality Specific Faith

Larson personalityIn this edition of Beyond Words let’s look at how your personality filters your faith.

My wife is sitting across from me just opening a medium-size bag of M&Ms. Different colors on the outside and consistently the same within. Very much like our world’s Christ-followers. Sometimes, even with a few nuts thrown in for variety.

Not all Christians are alike. Not all expressions of our faith are alike. Not all people are alike. Kind of like stating the obvious, isn’t it.

Yet within the decreasing influence of Western Christendom we try to maintain a boring sameness in our faith as is impossible. The reality of divergent races, cultures, and personalities should be obvious. We are all not one. We are a complex multiplicity of beings with a common commitment to Jesus Christ.

Thankfully, we live in an era where some really smart people have done some deep research on the different kinds of people we are. Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine Cook Myers began their research in 1917, which culminated in the Myers-Briggs (Personality) Type Indicator Test in 1956 (MBTI). You can take a simplified FREE version of the Test here—

https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

The observable reality that we each have a distinct personality is a great gift from God. For Christians, it means that the gospel can take on different shapes and nuances across a broad spectrum of races, cultures, and divergent personalities. We don’t all have to be the same. Even better, none of you have to be likeme. [Phew!]

You see, when God created us He intentionally built into us divergent dispositions to reflect the majesty of His glory. Thus, we are NOT all the same; nor should we be. If we were, it would be an admission that people are unilaterally boring and that the Lord God Creator of the universe is, in fact, not all that creative.

The myriad of different cultures and human personality traits is proof of exactly the opposite. Therefore we should also expect a plethora of different kinds of Christians— quiet, contemplative, sensitive, exuberant, and nuts. This must be so because the majesty and diversity of the Trinity imprints upon us, not in a manner to rob us of who God has made us, but to empower us within our specific personality design. What a gift!

So, get used to being you, trying to offend as few as possible. You have been designed the way you are for a reason; find out what it is.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Trouble Transitions

Gary, Davis, Christianity, Change, Trouble, Transitions          Far too frequently we hear the cry that our society needs more change agents. The implication is that the way things are presently just isn’t good enough. Pick a field— politics, business, transportation, medicine, religion (especially Christianity), finances, yadayadayada. Everything needs some form of change.

            The problem with change is that it invariably dumps us into a transitional time where even more things become unclear, unsteady, and iffy. O joy. Just what we need— more instability. Well, actually, we do.

Transitions in any segment of life move us out of the predictability, safety and definitions within one life-phase into an arena of uncertainty, a transition.

Transitions aren’t necessarily marked by growth. Though most people would hope they grow within a transition, many people, and businesses flounder, unable to set a new direction, given the changing global circumstances or personal situation. But without the cloudiness of a transition, things would stay too-much-same.

When you think about it, the cycle of phases and transitions, phases and transitions, is constant throughout your own life, or the life of a company, or country. The shifts are marked by what Malcom Gladwell has declared as tipping points— literally, those events or experiences that push us right over the edge and force us to consider something else in the future…, or tomorrow, or next week.

So when you consider becoming a change agent also consider how it will affect you, personally, your business, your family, and the greater good. Do you want to create the circumstances that lead you and those with you into a transition?

Transitions are uncertain times. Just make sure you are ready for the fog that lies ahead. But, by all means, keep moving forward. Besides think of all the fun constant predictability takes out of the adventure we call life?!?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Bench Players

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There are a lot of bench players out there. You know the ones; they are on the team, but they are never quite in the game. Oh, they will cheer the players on the field with great gusto, but they never seem ready to enter the game as much as others.

We find them in all walks of life— sports teams, churches, business departments, etc. Some “players” would rather sit/stand on the sidelines and cheer rather than getting into the game. They never quite measure up.

In my line of work I find many bench players who cheer the team on; they just don’t want to play. What they settle into is a critical spirit that rains down on their fellow team members who are giving it all they’ve got. These bench players know how to get things done, of course, even better than those embroiled in the game, even better. They just never do it. And if they do have a better solution, we’ll never know it. Ah, if only they would play.

So, what kind of player are you? It’s easy to tell. If you are in the game, you are battered, bruised, dirty; discouraged one minute, elated the next. If you sit on the side and merely criticize those in the game, your uniform is spankin’ clean; you may have a great perspective on the overall game, but you are just not invested in it enough to get roughed up by the other team.

Real life needs players who play. Churches need players who play; and who are not afraid of getting beaten down every now & then. We need genuine Christians who are invested in the game. They are invested in their church and its goals. We already have too many bench players as it is.

Which kind of player do you think you are? Hint— look for wounds, cuts & abrasions.

Bleeding a little here,

  Gary

Fast Faith

Dr, Gary, Davis, Fast, be still, race, Christian,           Let’s see…, how to be a Christian in the 21st Century—

·        Go to school.

·        Clean the house.

·        Shopping.

·        Go the plant, the office, wherever.

·        Shovel the snow.

·        Shovel more snow.

·        Drive the kids to Saturday sports practice.

·        Pick up the kids from sporting events.

·        Attend a small group with other Christians.

·        Maybe, if there’s time, have personal devotions each morning.

·        Oh, and go to church Sunday morning for an hour, maybe an hour & a half.

Now, back to the beginning…, repeat.

Is there anything missing? Probably. You’re thinking of something right now, aren’t you; and that made you think of something else!?! Is there no end to the things that chomp away at our lives?

We are moving too fast and our faith is having a hard time keeping up.

Just following my conversion to Christianity I remember a chapel speaker saying “There is enough time in each day for you to do all of God’s will.” Although my life often mocks this axiom it still raises a consideration at the end of every day. Did I make a difference today? Did I come any closer to fulfilling God’s design on my life? Most days…, yes.  But there are some days I would rather forget.

Being a genuine Christian in our post 9/11, postmodern, postChristian world is no simple matter. You need to find your “Christian-self” in the midst of the normal people who surround you. What visible aspects show others that you are genuinely a follower of Jesus Christ? How did you matter today for the sake of Christ’s glory and the Kingdom of God? What do normal people think about your “Christian side?”

Answering these questions will be different for all of us. But one similarity will run through every answer— and that is our need to slow down to allow our Lord to catch up to us. Give up on a fast-faith. It’s not worth it. “Be still… .”

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Response: The Science is IN: God is the Answer

Religion, God, Spirituality, Dr Gary, Davis, Clueless, ChristiansFor people within the sphere of religion, any religion, Brian Bethune’s & Genna Buck’s article The Science is IN: God is the Answer (McCleans, 30 March 2015), comes as no surprise. People raised in secure loving religious homes tend to have greater skills at facing the realities of adulthood. Children raised within this kind of environment tend to be better equipped at re-defining themselves when they reach both puberty and that “ah-ha” moment we now define as “individuation.” i.e. that phase in life wherein a child ceases to define his/her-self in terms of their parent’s values and creates their own value system, beliefs, and life priorities. Granted, this can be a time of trial & error run amuck; but, hey, that’s what growth and transition are all about. If you get it right the first time, you’re holding on way too tight!

            That being stated, I have encountered a LARGE number of twenty-somethings, who come from religious families— conservative Christian, liberal Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim (Sunni/Shiite), and others, who are a psychological mess. Their lives have no borders or boundaries; they can’t make a decision about anything; commitment to anything is terrifying; and their ties to any belief system change hourly. “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

            I’m sure Lisa Miller’s (the researcher who studied this topic for 18 years) efforts yielded factually supported data. But I wonder if she ever actually met an adult child from a conservative Christian family? Or Catholic family? Or modern-day Jew? There is very little faith left to their religion. They are, in effect, practical “religious-atheists” who call upon their religious roots in times of disorientation or trouble and then quickly return to their lives as really nice people.

                Our societies search for spirituality outside of faith has only yielded a feel-good-faith; certainly not one that will hold up under the pressure of postChristian non-presuppositions about why it’s not all about me. It is, ya know.

Groundhog Insurrection

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christians, Groundhog, holiday, snow, winter, Phil                  After this past week of weather catastrophes it seemed a propitious time for a little fun. So let’s start with this odd question— What kind of culture could ever choose a Ground-hog’s emergence from his burrow and turn it into a national event?!? I mean, really!?!

Well…, that would be the United States. No other nation would use free-speech so frivolously. Nonetheless, in the northern hemisphere, it is the dead of winter. It’s dreary. It’s Sno-maggedon. Depressing. SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, blankets every city, county, and state. It’s a wonder we get through it at all. But we do have our skiing, snow-boarding, winter camping…, and warm fires, and hot chocolate, not to mention hot-tubs in the snow; 12+” more today. AND, Punxsutawney Phil, or Pete, or whoever it is now. Patricia? NAH! Real men would never stand for it.

First celebrated in Morgantown, PA (1841) on Candlemas Day, Groundhog Day was the forecaster of a second bout of winter or the heralding of an early Spring, depending on whether the little rodent saw his shadow. But earlier forms of GhD have been noted in both Germany & Scotland, two countries which definitely need an early Spring.

In my winters, getting out of bed in the dark just seems wrong. The cold, I can take. The snow, I love! But early mornings…, in the dark of winter! Not so much. What does get my warm feet on the cold floor is the thought that, today, I may just make a difference in someone else’s life. Right before the blizzard hit last week I handed a $20 bill to a homeless person. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Thank you. I’m going to go get something to eat, now.

Maybe we can’t change the weather with our actions, but we can most definitely change other things. Might I suggest we start with ourselves— then move on to help others grow. Small acts are sometimes quite significant in the lives of others.

                  What can you do today to improve another person’s life?  Not to feel good about yourself, or for some kind of recognition; simply do something for someone else because it’s the right thing to do.

So venture forth, Punxsutawney Phil, it’s a new day! You work on Spring: We’ll work on today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. Stay calm; and dig out…, again.

 

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

  Gary

Formidable Force

Malala Yousafzai, Formidable, Force, Courage, Brave, love, Forgiveness                 “Love is a Force more Formidable than any other. It is invisible— it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.”

~ Barbara De Angelis

Formidable Force.

What do you think of when your mind searches within for a symbol of Formidable Force? My first thoughts were of a Roman Phalanx, the Mongols, the USS Nimitz, and even the U.S. Congress— all formidable forces to be reckoned with. Each held/holds power in their own way— mostly military. But there are other more formidable forces in our scope of existence to which we must always give heed. Gravity comes to mind, first. Here are some others—

1.      Nature— There’s nothing like a change in the weather change your plans. Rain kills picnics: floods destroy: hurricanes (rain with wind) kill people. Then there is our place in the Universe— do we know what role we are to play in the grand scheme of things?

2.      Multi-Media Communications— It started meekly with the telegraph, then the telephone, then radio & TV; now, it’s out-of-control. The myriad forms of communication and entertainment available would have been deemed demonic a century ago. They weren’t, of course; but do they border on mind-control now? “Binge Watching” of TV shows has taken over more than one generation. Will we be known as the watching generation? A formidable force indeed!

3.      The Wielding of Power— Those in authority use it; by the grace of God, may they use it properly. Power always seems to usurp power. I remember a saying of former Secretary of State George Schultz— “Never give authority to someone who cannot live without it.”   Point taken.

4.      Revenge— For some people, and nations, it is the driving force behind their existence. They will not be placated.

5.      Love— Love seeks to give, to for-give. It offers the arms of embrace and friendship. Forgiveness and reparation. It may be buffeted, but it can rarely be destroyed.

6.      A corollary of Love is Forgiveness. Forgiveness is an aspect of Love, enacted upon to correct a wrong done. But if we refuse to forgive are we not also denying ourselves love? It is impossible to love without forgiving:  it is equally impossible to receive love when your heart is full of anger.

Thus does our discussion come down to these 3 questions—

1.      Are you a formidable force in this world? If so…

2.      What kind of formidable force are you?

3.      How do you face the formidable forces in your world, in your life?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary