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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Making a Difference

difference, clueless, community, christianity, life, We all want to make a difference. Some of us want to make a difference exclusively for ourselves: more money, nicer house, vacation home, BMW 7 series. Nothing wrong with that— except for the “exclusively” part.

Some of us want to make a difference on a local playing field—literally; coaching a sport, serving the elderly, providing meals for the injured, etc. We care about our friends & neighbors.

Fewer of us want to make a difference in the world arena. We become the shakers & movers of world change. We may hold public office and be in the public eye or we may operate under-the-radar, making a difference on the sly. But we keep the world safer and less prone to self-destruct.

The challenge of this EMPulse is obvious.  In what ways are you making a difference in your neighborhood, your community, and the world? Notice the question was not Are you making a difference? Why? Because you are not the one who should provide the answer. The people around you should respond. As for making a difference in the world, giving from your bounty (not from whatever is left at the end of the month) should be a priority. But have you ever sought an audience with Theresa May, Michel Temer, Justin Trudeau, Enrique Peña Nieto or Xi Jinping? Some of us need to do that to make a difference.

Kent Julian, on his BLOG Dream to Do, suggests 7 traits of people who make a difference—

  1. Hard (& smart) worker
  2. Consistency and Perseverance
  3. People-Person
  4. Truth-Teller
  5. Problem-Solver
  6. Lifelong Learner
  7. Delivers the good

If you show evidence of any of these character traits, then you should already be making a difference. Add significant time in Prayer to that list and you become a lethal weapon in the hands of God.

If you do not exhibit any of these traits, why don’t you? Are you afraid of something, or self-absorbed? Or is personal gain that central to your life? Really?!? Isn’t making a difference worth a little sacrifice?

Do you really want to hear our Lord say to you “Depart from me, I never knew you… .” (Matthew 7:23).

We all need to make sure we are making a difference somewhere.

 

Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,

Gary

Weeds in my Soul

weed, faith, weedkiller,

I have a confession to make. I hate grass! Ok, then you also know how much I hate weeds. The problem is…, if we killed all the weeds in our lawn there would be no green left. I swear the whole lawn is a field of weeds!Conundrum.

Weeds seem to sprout up no matter what I do. Weed Killer, Clover Obliterator, or Brush Fire Kits— nothing works. The same is true as I seek to live an honorable life before God & man. Weeds. Everything is basically green, but when you look closely— weeds.

One of the books I am presently reading talked about the weeds that grow up in our souls. We don’t always notice them because they are green like everything else. Sort of. They seem to creep amongst the lush grass that I have been cultivating and grooming most of my adult life. It’s like some of the Spiritual Turf Builder spread evenly over the green grass of my soul is snatched away by the weeds, just like on my lawn.

I’ve learned to live with the weeds in my lawn; not so sure I am all that comfortable with the weeds in my soul. Nestled within the deep crevices of my soul they can do serious damage. Not that I live with a pseudo-spirituality or surface-Christian faith. I do not. I live as upright a life as I can. But there are weeds.

For most Christians, green is green, weeds, grass, what’s the difference?!? But for professional Lawn-Keepers for-the-Lord, they can spot a weed from a mile away. Sometimes, that’s all they see. That’s all they focus on. Thankfully, the Father looks at us through the eyes of Christ. Our sins are forgiven and our weeds are taken away. Now that’s Turf-Builder!

So stop wallowing in your guilt and shame. Get on with grooming your soul to produce that pleasant aroma of freshly mown grass, announcing that your spiritual lawn is now trimmed and your weeds are gone.

Remember that about other people while you’re at it.

Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,

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

Energy

One of the greatest challenges to Evolutionary Theory is the teenager’s room. Left on its own, it will degenerate into chaos so fast it will utterly baffle you! The same is true of the human body; left alone it will not naturally evolve into Jessica Alba; it will decay into something that more resembles me (no pictures, please).

Like a farmer’s field, a great metropolis, or finely tuned Bugatti, the human body needs the proper infrastructure, nourishment, and discipline to prevent it from devolving into total couch-potatodom. Sure, a lot of our body type has to do with our genes; but it is probably more a matter of no longer even caring enough to fit into our jeans. We get lazy, eat convenience-foods, comfort-foods, and just plain junk. We lack the discipline to push our bodies to maintain the physical stamina they need to keep in balance.

A Question- Where do you get your energy? If it is from the food you eat, it is more than likely that it is time for some serious modification. To get your body functioning at a healthy level you need to eat right. Then…, there is exercise. Turn off that TV. Shut down that Laptop. Get up off your a## and move! If you never move, you will never need energy [no movement = no energy = fat build-up.] Duh.

As months and years pass you will need to become more intentional about grabbing all the energy you can; mostly because your propensity to not move will be on the increase. [less energy = less life.]

This same principle runs throughout every aspect of our lives-emotional, spiritual, relational, or professional. Unless we are consistently endeavoring to feed our soul, as it were, we will falter and stumble in every arena. Feed the body-right foods. Feed the emotions-balance receiving and giving. Feed the spiritual part of your life-feed your soul through prayer, meditation, and Scripture readings, study. Feed your relationships-nurture closer friendships; put something into them; even make new friends (at any age). They do not just happen. Feed your professional life-think creatively about your work and how you can make it more pleasurable and more productive.

If you find yourself energy-less you need to UpGrade your way of life:  put a bit more kick into your step, push yourself just a little further. Never rust on your laurels. No matter where you find yourself along in your life’s journey, there is nothing like punching that turbo button and launching yourself into overdrive.  Unless you are on your death-bed you have no one to blame but yourself.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Lives Cut Short


Wars take a terrible toll on countries, peoples, families, and individuals. Too many young men & women sacrifice their lives for what they believe to be the right way, the way of their country and/or their God. No matter the winner of the conflict, the cost to both sides is immeasurable.

Presently, our planet finds itself in the midst of another world war; not of nation pitted abainst nation, but of beliefs pitted against beliefs, with small cells of extremists attacking established systems of governence. Lives will be lost, thousands of them, on both sides, as this war rages on. It is the kind of war that will go on for decades, leaving the victors in exhausted glory.

However, there is another kind of war that cuts short the lives of men. It is the war of identity-theft. Far too frequently we tie our identity to some acceptance matrix; to a job, to a discretionary activity (sports, parenting, music), to a particular relationship, in ownership of property (wealth, houses, cars). We define ourselves in terms of other things—a position, athleticism, intelligence, motherhood, performance, wealth, even other people.

Then something happens to rob us of the identity we tied to our job, family, friends, athletic ability, etc. It may be as minor as a broken ankle, as devastating as a divorce, or as simple as aging. And our world collapses. Whatever it was that gave us our identity is no longer there. We are at float in a sea lacking any clearly identifiable directions. Your life, as you knew it, has been cut short.

For some of us, that is it: that’s all she wrote. It’s over. Whatever comes next looms as insignificant compared to what we have just lost. How can there be any kind of future for me?!?

Some things to ponder—

  1. Consider that the original foundation for your identity may have been established on an inappropriate underpinning, be that people, place, property, wealth, or ability. Placing your self-definers in stuff, or people, is never a good idea. It all burns up in the end anyway. [FYI- I’ve grounded my identity in the God of the universe. So far, this has proven a very safe connection.]
  2. Your present “tragedy” could be just the incentive you need to re-examine your identity baseline. Don’t forgo the opportunity.
  3. Don’t stop living. Force yourself to dream about what could be next. On a personal note, there was a period in my life when I believed I had developed failure to an art-form. But I learned a lot how NOT to mess-up again.
  4. Be on the lookout for God’s little surprises. He has a way of dropping new friends into your life, of healing broken bodies, and of healing hurting hearts with new love.
  5. Try to rest. Take walks. Think out loud. Don’t give up! If you’re still breathing your life is NOT cut short yet.

Have a nice week,

Gary

exuberance

Sini Merikallio

William Blake (1757-1827), painter, printmaker & exceptional poet during Britain’s Romantic Era, once proclaimed that—

“Exuberance is beauty!”

And how right he was! In a baby’s eyes, a child’s excitement, a boy’s exhilaration at catching his first fish, in an ingénue’s coquettish joy at her first date, or in a bride’s elation on her wedding day, their outward demeanor accurately reveals their inner, entire body, mind, & soul captivation.

Exuberance leaves nothing to the imagination. Watch any football game; it is easy to tell which side just scored just by the roar of the crowd. Exuberance is an obvious expression of our overjoyed sense of excitement within. Unfortunately, exuberance subsides to a more socially acceptable expression as we age. Even though exuberance is expressed quite differently by different kinds of people, it is, in fact, a sad reality that our exuberance follows our body’s descent into decay and becomes boringly sedated. It becomes a civilized passion, which is hardly a passion at all.

How sad.

Not that we should become like little children, with joyous expressions of abandon, nor like exuberant fans at a ball game going wild. But, rather…, something more; something that lifts us, and those around us, to a brighter, lighter plane of perspective; to a new life, as it were, for a moment, or even a lifetime. Too many of us have died, emotionally, passionately, way before our time. We’ve lost that zest for life that is quintessential for anyone claiming to be human…, and still breathing. Could it be that though we are not dead yet…, it is hard for others to notice any life in us. To some degree our increasing concern with caution and personal preservation has supplanted our passion for living, our joie de vivre. Could it be that we have actually lost our life’s core, our undergirding principles? It is difficult to feign life when there is little, if any, clarity about who we are within.

Therefore, for any exuberance to gain expression, we must first regain a sense of who we truly are, of our core values and of a sense of what we are all about. Only then can we let out a good R-O-A-R every now & then.

So let us get to work; so that we once more may express our joy with great exuberance of heart— shouting wildly, singing loudly, flapping our appendages in the air so all the world. Let us dance, twirling in circles with glee; let us do back flips, collapsing on the ground in a puddle of laughter. Let us let our enthusiasm for life be known for all to see. Exuberance is beauty!

You are not dead yet; neither am I. So let’s get at it! Reestablishing our core within so we can claim life to the fullest inside and out! Exuberance is so much more catching. It brings life to all who come near it.

Have a nice week,

Gary