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

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Centenarian

Florence Davis-05                Today, March 16th, would have been my mother’s 100th birthday. She exited this life just two months shy of her 98th birthday, January 19, 2012. She lived a valuable and influential life, teaching prisoners, caring for the poor, and moving among high ranking governmental officials, even Presidents.

But her real value was at home, to my sister and me as “mom.” Just mom. We did not know her in her other, more public roles; nor did we know our father, Earl Carlton Davis, as the founder of our present-day mega-ton maritime industry. For us, he was just “dad.” Never mind that he drank with Presidents and stevedores alike, and ran the gamut from the FBI to the Mafia members. He was, at home, just dad.

Now that they are both gone, my sister, Carol, and I reflect on their lives often. What they gave us was immeasurable.

Dad gave me his horrible sense of humor; a malady I suffer even to this day. My mom simply mixed up the punch-line with the joke. We forgave them both for these gifts years ago.

My mother’s consistent tenacious character has formed my character in deep ways. It is hard for me to let go, to give up, or quit. My dad passed along his toughness to fortify my determination.

My dad’s meanness taught me how not to be a father. Although, I’m not that sure I was that great of a father anyway.

Dad’s congenial character taught me diplomacy. I learned to compromise and still get things done right. That was an art, his art, and I am glad I’ve inherited so much of it.

But it was my mom’s personal Christian faith that most informed my early years, teen years, and throughout college & graduate school. Though I had my father’s personality, I definitely had my mother’s faith. She rarely passed it along to us through words; rather, it came to us through her attitudes and actions; and through prayer— lots of prayer. She was the embodiment of Jesus Christ Himself for us! Her prayers even drew dad back to God, through years of disappointment & anger.

Has there been someone in your life who has had a rich, deep impact on you? Thank God for them! Get in touch with them. Thank them yourself, before you miss the chance.

We kids are a dumb lot, often unable to see the love and care of those closest to us. It’s probably time we tuned-in a tad more and appreciated what God has given us.

Thanks mom, for everything…, & Happy Birthday!

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Getting lost

Lost, Thoreau, Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, risk, reflectionMost of us, at some time or another, will get lost. It may be as simple as getting lost on back roads or forgetting where your glasses are; or, more seriously, getting lost in life; that is, losing your sense of direction, purpose, and/or identity. In short, you no longer know where you are, who you are, or where you are heading.

A dead stop.

In the midst of that empty confusion certain questions start to arise—

How did I get here? What could I have done differently? How do I start to dig out of this mess? More importantly— How do I find myself again? Who am I now? What do I do next?

Anxiety starts to immobilize your spirit; you cannot take any action for fear of further failure. But you have to do something. Anything! Here are some of the things I’ve done when I’ve gotten lost.

1.      I start taking small steps. What are the little things you can definitely accomplish that will bring some semblance of stability or order to your life? Do that. Then do another one.

2.      Keep in mind that when you are lost everything is a risk. Things you used to do as a simple matter have now morphed into insurmountable monsters. Nonetheless, you must face those monsters to overcome them. I had to. And I corralled a cadre of friends to stand by me as I faced them.

3.      Don’t ask God to do for you what you must do yourself. He is definitely in charge. But we are not mindless robots. He expects us to act responsibly with the time He has given us.

4.      God can’t direct a parked car. Start moving. If it’s in the wrong direction, He’ll redirect you.

5.      Establish NEW points of reference for your journey. The former points of reference are gone; you’ve already passed them. If you want to find your way again, you’ll need to discover a whole new set of reference points to guide you. I find I need to cut back on my activities to give my mind, and heart, time to process the mental & emotional shift. What will most likely be the next sign along your path that you are getting back on track?

With all the variables we have to juggle these days it’s easy to get lost along the way. You have to work hard to get back on track. So get to it. Drive! You will not stay lost for long. [Proverbs 16:3.]

Honor God, honor people…, make a path,

  Gary

The Time Machine

 

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christianity, NEEDinc, time machine, H G wells, future, journeyWhere would you go? This poster poses a whimsical question. It was released to advertise the 2002 movie version of H.G. Wells classic work The Time Machine (1895); oddly, directed by one Simon Wells. So, really, if you could travel through time, where would you go? In my 30s I had to make that decision. It was fascinating.

 

In my personal travels through time I can tell you that I have never seen such beautiful creatures as the ones pictured on this poster, or in the movie. That being said, I have seen the Big Bang. It was slower and bigger than most scientific postulations have it. I have seen the dividing of the land masses of Pangea as they separated from our oceans. I was present in the Garden of Eden; beautiful place, sad experience. And yes, it did all start with two people. What a surprise!

 

And I have seen the future. Aspects of it are incredible: other parts, not so much. For security reasons I cannot reveal too much of what I saw in my travels, but I can tell you some things.

 

For one “wars and rumors of wars” continue throughout the future. I found this to be disheartening. Nukes are never used again, except in small detonations; but the atrocities people inflict on one another increase in brutality and scope. Technology dominates and connects everyone. It truly is amazing. [I finally get my global computer implant!] And we actually come together under one global government; not without great compromise on all sides. America’s moral decline into an amoral pluralism is the final tipping point that couples with a compromised, secular Islam and a despairingly anemic Christianity. All becomes one. Some still hold true to their faiths:  but few.

 

But the question at the top of the poster still foists upon us a challenge—

 

Where would you go?

 

Some diehard Christians would go to see the birth or resurrection of Jesus. Muslims would travel back to witness Mohammed receiving the Q’ran. Asians might journey back to witness the building of The Great Wall of China (they would be gone a long time). Geologists might want to see the formation of the earth’s core and the initial drifts of earth’s tectonic plates. Astronomers would want to view the formation of our universe. (What is “dark matter” anyway?) Historians, well, they would travel everywhere and anywhere. I might want to visit with members of my ancestral-tree. From what little I do know they were a crafty bunch.

 

All of us would want to go somewhere. We’d want to correct the ills of the present in the ancient past. Do you think that our presence would help things? Or would we screw up? We would want to prepare for the future. Could we? “There is a time for every season under the sun… .”

 

Things that make you go “Hummmm?”

 

  Gary

 

I like my closet

Some days you just don’t feel like getting out of bed. We’ve all been there. The pressures of life weigh in on us so heavily that we lose the strength to face another day. This is especially true around the holidays— gifts to be bought and wrapped, meals to be prepared for the imminent arrival of guests & family. Added demands upon our already frantic lives.

Some of us, yea verily even extroverts, oft seek sanctuary in our closet, whether figuratively or literally. We retreat to a place of momentary safety, a hiding place, where no one can find us. We seek silence, solitude, serenity— commodities sorely lacking in our present pace of life. [Buddhism has a lot to teach us on this subject.] Large companies are scheduling team-building retreats for their managers and department heads; Christians have been going on spiritual retreats for years; Muslims fulfill one of their Five Pillars by making at least one journey to Mecca during their life-time.

There are at least two kinds of closets. The first kind is within us, holding things private, things which are best kept to ourselves. The other one holds us. It is a place for us to gain perspective and strength, to find solace for our soul. It may be a literal closet, or a place of safety—a friend’s home, a favorite bar, a winter hike through snow, a time of reflection, a rich conversation with a confidant over a wee dram of Glenmorangie. [Note: a roaring fire often aids in melting our resistance to search within.]

So as our lives continue to accelerate, make sure you go into your closet often, to your place of escape, to remind yourself who you really are. To be properly equipped to grapple with the daily barrage of activity and information that assaults us, we all need those times of retreat, wherein our focus must be on refurbishing our spirit, building our character, and finding rest for our soul. And may God bless and honor those who have created a closet for me. I’m ready to go in…, how about you?

Closing the door now,

Gary