Phases 12-Where do we go from here?

 we_can_do_itThis will be the last entry in our series- The Phases of the Christian Life.
     If you have been following this series, by now you have tried to determine where you are in the phases of your own Christian life.
  • Deliverance
  • Delight
  • Discipleship
  • Distraction
  • Disillusion
  • Discouragement (Despair)
  • Decisions
  • Dedication
  • Deliverance (again)
  • Delight (on and on and on)
Well, don’t bother. Time for me to ‘fess up.
     There is no sequence of phases to the Christian life. You might find yourself in one phase or another depending on your life circumstances and your responses to them: you may find yourself delighting in one area of your life and discouraged in another; this may last for a long time. Get some help.
     The goal, however, remains the same- Delight. Delight is the culmination of all the facets of our Christian journey: accepting Christ’s deliverance from and forgiveness for our sin, overcoming distraction and disillusionment, deciding daily to dedicate our lives to the joy of becoming Christ’s disciples; bringing all aspects of our life under His authority until it feels more like freedom than obedience.
     Do keep in mind that this is a life-long process. It is NOT an instantaneous “poof” and all is well. Some Christians never fully accept Christ’s forgiveness for their sins, deciding instead to wallow in chronic guilt and confession. Others rarely delight in their Lord; they always seem to be working harder at their Christian life. Still others avoid decisions at all costs, dreading they might make the wrong choice. Some never fully dedicate their lives to Christ, fearing they may miss something our world dangles before them.
     There are some practices that will help you stay the course, especially through the rougher times.
  • Private Prayer
  • Friendships
  • Time Alone Time in Community
  • Scotch
  • Exercise
  • Rest
  • Time Away
  • Productivity
  • Scripture (en mass)
  • Reassess your Routine
  • Prayer with Friends
     Everyone needs a Safe Person, a Safe Place, & a Safe Activity. A great meal out would be a good place to discover what yours are; and to put to use some of the ideas in the above list. My favorite place is the Sonterra Grill in Colorado Springs. Great Pineapple-Habanero Salsa. Bring a friend.
     Whatever you do, give God room to work in your life the way He wants to work. Don’t dictate to Him how things are to be done. It’s just not safe.
In Phase 3, or 5, or is it 7? Whatever!
  Gary
Advertisements

Phases #10 Deliverance…again

sir_peter_paul_rubens_-_daniel_in_the_lions_den_-_google_art_project
Peter Paul Rubens, between circa 1614 and circa 1616

   By now you must be wondering if the Christian life is like going ‘round in circles— deliverance, delight, discipleship, discouragement, decisions, & now, deliverance, again. In many ways, you would be right. For a life of faith is not a straight line to the future, with no kinks, knots, bunny trails, or temporary suspensions. It has all of that and then some. Maybe even a lion’s den for some of us.

[]

     No Christian is perfect. We are always in process. [Although, I must admit to being PERFECT in 2004, for about 5 ½ minutes, in April. Most of the time, I am not even close.Our faith journeys are not set in stone, even though our salvation is. We all doubt, wander, reject, reaffirm, and celebrate over and over again. Our faith is set in the context of who we are designed to be as individual Christians, in the context of the whole Body of Christ.

     So in times when we need yet another deliverance from our anguish, our pain, our sin, it is good to have fellow journeymen around you who can attest to the power of God to free you from yet another mess you’ve made of your life. Christian community…, remember?!? I’ve often wondered if we go through these cycles so God can remind us we are fickle beings and must constantly rely on Him. Deliverance has a definite recurring role in our journey of faith.

     There is another side effect of deliverance. It is the reminder that we are also forgiven for our sins (READ— no condemnation!) Many of us never lay hold of this reality; instead, we wallow in the Dark Night of the Soul believing we will never get it right, never be good enough for Christ, never be worthy of heaven. Seriously!?! Can we be so stupid to believe that Christ’s work of the Cross was not sufficient to cover the price for all of our sins? Even the ones we have not come up with yet?

     You ARE in a state of grace. You have been declared holy. Get used to it. Get on with it in your journey and believe that you are truly forgiven— past, present and future. No defeatist wallowing allowed.

     AND, when you mess up again, again, and again…, and need the deliverance of the Father, know it is already there; and the forgiveness to go along with it as well. Seek forgiveness wherever you need it; then get back on track. Our Lord has all your bases covered.

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

~Psalm 32:7 [NIV]

 SMILE, Gary

Phases #9 Dedication

how-to-be-successful-with-weight-loss_1-1024x682There is a section in the Judeo-Christian scripture that asks a question—

“O Lord, who may abide in your tent?

Who may dwell on your holy hill?”

In other words, who would live long in Your presence? The Psalmist offers a number of criteria. For our consideration, I will choose only one—

“He swears to his own hurt and does not change.”

~ Psalm 15: 1, 4. NASB

     Dedication is our internal, decisive will power to stick to the matters at hand. It is commitment, determination, stick to-it-tiveness, perspicuity— call it what you will; it is a critical obstinacy that we use to fulfill a decision we’ve made, no matter how hard the road.

     When it comes to the Christian faith, this is the one characteristic that must be exercised the most…, after prayer, and worship, and probably a few more. But for me, it has been the one thing that has pushed my faith to the limit. Remember Never give up!? Well, never give in, either.

     In marriage vows we swear to be faithful and committed to one another. Loving, too. The primary reason marriages shatter is our lack of dedication to make it work, no matter what. The same is true of our faith in Christ.

     Too often in our life of faith, things go wrong, or we sin, rebel against God, or just find the journey too tedious and binding. So we jump ship. Or sex grabs us; and I don’t mean the kind within our marriage. Our entire faith gets dumped for some handsome guy or cute little thing. Just brilliant!

     G.K. Chesterton once said that Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried. As long as WE continue to set the perimeters of our faith, it will remain just that— our faith. But if we are serious about our decision to truly follow the claims of Christ, no matter what, that’s when the required dedication needs to kick in.

     Setting our minds to the task of being a Christian is not a simple matter. The most probable reason Christ sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us is that He understood that. He knows our weaknesses, our whimsical nature when things get tough. He knew our dedication to Him would be challenged. Therefore…, God within us: establishing our commitment to Him: forging a faith within that is unshakable.

 Dedicated, determined, and heading in the right direction,

  Gary

Phases #4 Discipleship

caravaggio-emmaus-750pix

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

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

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