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

Love Hurts

love hurts, relationships, gary davis, hurt, pain, Love Hurts

Being in love is not for the faint of heart. Loving has become a dangerous enterprise in Western Culture. Expressing love, no matter how up-front or innocent, is open to interpretations of manipulation, harassment and aggression.

Let’s start with our own love-wounds. If you have not been hurt through love, you have not loved, or allowed another to love you. Hurt is part of life: it gives joy its perspective. So if you are guarding your heart, sadly, you also have given up hope of ever trusting or loving at another time. The longer this continues the harder it will be for you to ever love, or be loved, again.

Some of those I’ve counseled have constructed such a protective shell about them that they can barely bring themselves to speak. Fear overtakes their lives and they retreat even deeper into their reclusive shell. Others shut down all and any emotion; no sadness, no elation, no joy, no sorrow. They become the living-dead.

If you are tired of feeling no pain, no joy, no love, try implementing one of these action plans.

  1. Find a friend. Anyone. They need to be someone with whom you feel safe, more at ease.
  2. Spend time in sunlight. No, seriously. Vitamin D works wonders on the soul. Take a walk while you’re at it. The exercise will rid your body of the toxins that accompany the pain.
  3. Talk with a counselor about any abuse. Remember, neglect is abuse too. Whether from a father, a sibling, or a bully, or a spouse, your scars run deep. Don’t let them fester and feed your dark side.
  4. Find an empowerment group. You’re not the only one who’s been hurt. Others have been through the same or even worse pain. Bond together with them for mutual building. [Not bitching.]
  5. Come along side someone who has been hurt. That’s right; in your misery reach out a caring hand to someone else. It may do more for you than it does for them.
  6. Cut back on sugar. Sugar is probably one of the most poisonous substances in our diet, causing everything from depression, to heart disease, to early dementia. Eat fruit. I am dead serious.
  7. If possible, confront the cause(s) of your pain. Not alone. Take an advocate or an arbiter; especially if the cause is an abuser. Actually, with an abuser, the best course of action may be a simple old snail-mail with no return address. If the cause is a former boyfriend/girlfriend…, well, they probably will not want to meet with you. There is always email, though. Be kind…, and truthful.

For future encounters, please keep in mind that love is always a risk, even more so in these early decades of the Twenty-first Century. It beckons you to put out a little, and then a little more. Reciprocation will tell you if you are on the right path. Do be careful. But do take the risk. Yes, you may be hurt again. But you will be wiser and stronger to handle it this time around.

On a personal note, I have been hurt by people so much in life that I have lost track. And that is a good thing. If I hung on for resolution of every painful experience in life, I would be a useless blot on the DNA scan of the Universe. So now I struggle to live without resolution, yes, but with great hope and trust in the God of my faith. He has always proven to be faithful, safe, and, for me, a little dangerous. It’s just hard sometime.

NEXT DISCUSSION:  Learning to Love Again.  

 Healing from the hurt,

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

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

Why Jesus became human

 nativity, Jesus, love, lightThis is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. ~ Matthew 1:18-24

This historical description of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth have been recorded in the Christian Bible for anyone to read. But the WHY of Christmas is a much more panoramic story. It starts with the beginning of time itself. Time, along with this fantastic universe were brought into being for us. That’s right—us. And the Lord God Creator said it was good.

In the early days of our livelihood, life was idyllic, if not busy. God had set our ancestors with the task of naming the animals; a.k.a.- imbuing them with their core characteristics. Busy, busy. Then there was that first garden to plant, till, and harvest. More busy. Forget about clothes. Who had the time anyway!

We did, however, find the time to cross the one line God had drawn in the sand—Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The rest is history.

Why did Jesus become human? To become one of us. To suffer the punishment we deserved for crossing the line with God. And in so doing we can be reinstated in a relationship with our Creator.

Why is it this way? I don’t know. Make something up. Most people don’t even believe this much. So we’ve turned the celebration of Jesus’ birth into a cultural economic bonanza for marketing and consumerism. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas celebrations. I love giving gifts. [Ok, I love receiving them too.]

So I will celebrate in the Christmas spirit right alongside the rest of our culture! But I will also celebrate a more quiet one (or maybe not so quiet), remembering the great gift that God the Creator gave us, Jesus Christ: the way back to Him.

Merry Christmas!
  Gary  &  Starr

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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