Crippling Fear

 flickr_-_sukanto_debnath_-_-1How many of us live with a gnawing fear of failure? Some of us are claustrophobic (fear of small spaces); others have acrophobia (fear of heights). Then, of course, there’s always snakes, in-laws, falling, and computers. I coined a phobia once—Christophobia! Fear of Christians.

The list of Phobia’s goes on ad infinitum. Too many of us pile one fear upon another, compounding the depth and extent of a once simple fear, now, a muddled mess of fears.

As the horde of our fears combine, they produce in us a reaction— an invisible shield of protection. This is a wall we put up to guard against further “attacks,” whether real or imagined, from the world outside. Unfortunately, over time, our inner walls start to crumble, and we find ourselves less protected than we once supposed. This breakdown of our protective barriers can lead to further fear, a crippling fear.

It is no simple matter to deal with crippling fear, let alone to overcome it. If not addressed it can eventually overwhelm you and take your life. This is a serious, irrational illness.

It is said that perfect love casts out fear. [1 John 4:18]  Short of God’s love for us I haven’t found much perfect love on this planet. Truthfully, sometimes even God’s love for us doesn’t drive out the fear that we grasp. But maybe that’s the problem—we really don’t want to let go of our fear. Somehow it has melded with the deepest part of our core and integrated into our identity. So now, it holds us.

Thus are we drawn into a war within ourselves; and it will not be an easy war to fight. Crippling fear knows just when and where to attack at every turn.

You will need help. Here are some simple tools I have used in my own fight with fear.

1.      Anger. [Yelling at God.]

2.      Prayer. [Listening to God.]

3.      Music.

4.      Scripture. Lots of it.

5.      One incredible friend (ok…, more than one).

6.      Counselors (again, more than one).

7.      Medication.

8.      Letting go of things I cannot change.

9.      Listing my fears.

10.  Single Malt Scotch (with that one good friend).

I don’t know if my list has been helpful: you may need to write your own. Whatever you do, DO NOT let this damn fear consume your life!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

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Dear Howard Schultz, & Starbucks Baristas

starbucks, coffee, christmas, christian, gary, davisDear Howard Schultz (CEO), & Starbucks Baristas everywhere,

By now most of you have heard of the RANTFever that is sweeping our land over your attempt to de-Christianize Christmas on your bright RED holiday cups. I truly am sorry for all this hubbub. It’s just wrong.  “Christians are being persecuted,” some Christians cry! One man, Paul Matthew Turner, on returning from India to the US, remarked somewhat incredulously over all the fuss over the Starbucks stuff. I’ll just quote one of his less vitriol reactions here— “what a shallow, disgusting, and completely moronic portrayal of “faith” this is!” You can read more here—https://www.facebook.com/MPTAuthor?fref=ts

Josh Feuerstein, a Christian protagonist (read Jackass), offers us a more inappropriate response in his simple RANT on his Facebook page—https://www.facebook.com/joshua.feuerstein.5/videos/689569711145714/ Really, watch it to see what NOT to do! And read the first link as well.

What amazes me is that anyone is so surprised in 21st Century America that Starbucks is not overtly “Christian” on its holiday coffee cups! Why should they be? Since when have we been a Christian nation, or Starbucks a Christian business?!? One ABC news commentator (whom I have a secret crush on so will not reveal her name) actually said, “If you want the Starbucks cup to be more Christmasy draw a snowman on it.”

During this Holiday Season, do I expect my Volvo mechanic to stamp my bill with a manger-scene— in red & green? Do I expect my doctor to wish me Merry Christmas; he’s Jewish. (He did anyway. Go figure.) Nor do I expect St. Nick to slide down my chimney. He’d get his ass fried.

I do expect people, at this time of year, to be more joyful, loving, suicidal (I do counseling.), sacrificial, and considerate. I even expect (some) drivers to let me to cut into their lane when I use my turn-signal. It’s just “the Season.”

For Christians everywhere, genuine Christians, not the whatever-the-hell-they-are Christians, take this Season of the year to honor your neighbors. DO NOT give them a fruit-cake. Don’t be one either. Invite them for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, a New Year’s party! Learn to make Wassail together. DRINK Wassail together (hic). Share your family’s celebrations together.

So, dearest Howard Schultz & Starbucks Baristas, THANK YOU for your Red Cups this Season! They’re bright & cheery! I need that. Honestly, I need your coffee just as much. Especially the Gram Latte’s! They’re great! Thank you very much for them.

And, not to be offensive in any way, Merry Christmas to all of you at Starbucks! You’re doing a great job of encouraging a lot of people at this time of year. Particularly me.

…and a Happy New Year, too,

  Gary

Davis v Davis

Davis, Kim, Gary, 365 Christianity, Clerk, Christian, Rights

Unless you live in cave in the Canadian wilderness you have probably caught whim of a Legal vs. Christian faith confrontation in Kentucky. The case revolved around Kim Davis’, Rowan County Clerk, refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, a ruling recently handed down to lower courts by our U.S. Supreme Court.

Kim’s justification is that the mandate violated her conscience and civil liberties as a born-again Christian. In other words, her freedom of speech and right to dissent were being denied.

In another case, Charee Stanley (47), a recent convert to Islam, was recently suspended by ExpressJet for refusing to serve alcohol to passengers as it violated her religious beliefs. Other flight attendants simply volunteered to take up that part of the job. No problem!?! Except for one Flight Attendant who filed a complaint against her. Thus, the 12 month suspension for Charee.

Are these two cases the same? Similar? Totally different issues?

A perspective. First, I am a Davis— Dr. Gary Davis, to be exact. Second, I also am a practicing Christian. I even teach Christians how to express our faith in ways that make sense to normal people. Most people have NO IDEA who genuine Christians are. They think we are ALL like Kim Davis. I am not like Kim Davis. We may share the same Biblical faith, but that is where it ends.

At the risk of being accused of tooting my own horn, allow me to record a recent texting incident between myself and a friend (not a Christian) that I interviewed for my next book, THE WHISKEY CHRONICLES: what normal people think of Christians. He initiated this conversation—

TD: Just 2 words, “Kim Davis?” Thoughts?

GD: Kim Davis?

TD: Kentucky “Christian” city clerk.

GD: Oh, her. One word, JERK!

TD: Hahaaaaahaa. What do normal people think of Christians? Probably Kim Davis! It’s unfortunate. But I think of Gary Davis…, a real Christian. Time to get that book going.

GD: You are an amazing Encourager, TD! Writing. Writing. Videoing. NEED more Bourbon to finish book.

TD: Hahaaaahaaa. I’ll be right over with a barrel.

Question: Who did more to further the cause of Christ? Davis…, or Davis? Who would draw more people TO Christ? Who would polarize people more?

I’m sorry, Kim; but what were you thinking!?! I am sorry I referred to you as a jerk in my text; it was more of an emotional reactionary response than a reasoned one. Please forgive me.

I live in New England where under 1% of the total population attends church (except Boston; 7%). That’s not genuine Christians, who believe the Bible and attempt to follow its teachings; that percentage is even less. America is NOT a Christian nation; never has been, never should be. We ARE a nation that promotes religious freedom…, within our communities, and in the workplace. Kim believes she upheld her faith by denying marriage licenses to same sex couples. I believe she violated both her job mandate and Scripture’s mandate to be subject to the Bible’s teachings and with government ordinances—

 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities… .” ~ Romans 13:1 (NIV Bible)

Seriously, Kim Davis, although I support your right to dissent, your shape of Christianity just did more to embarrass the name of Christ in our society than to draw people to Him. But you are not alone; too many Bible believing Christians still insist ondefending the faith against this world rather than befriending the people who live in it. Christians are not a bad lot if you can push past our oft offensive antics.

Question: So what can we do to resolve our differences? What can we do live in community with one another.

Comments & criticisms welcome.

…for what it’s worth,

  Gary

Tolerance isn’t what you think it is

Gary, davis, reverberation, wilhelm, friedrich, hamlet, thesis, antithesis, tolerance


Georg W
ilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German born 19th Century philosopher who speculated on the nature of Being and Nothingness (“To Be or Not To Be…? Hamlet?). He concluded that for every thesis, a statement about some idea, there is an opposing antithesis, an opposing idea. These two opposing positions would battle it out and result, most of the time, in a synthesis of the two. Hegel used this formulation only once, but it formed the basis for many of his subsequent hypotheses.

So today, 200 years on, what does this have to do with anything?!?

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel  1770 - 1831  In these last few weeks/months/years our society has become so reactionary that people are neglecting the common courtesy of thinking before they act. Too many of us are jus’ letting” it all hang out, blowing up, accusing each other, not even listening to the other group’s full thesis. Thus do tempers flare, stereotypes flourish, and a kind of seething hatred takes over, further widening the gap between people and positions. Winning is all that matters. Being right. It’s always tit for tat: thesis vs. antithesis. We never seem to grow into a synthesis beyond all our posturing.

The recent Supreme Court rulings for gay-marriages, Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner, and our President striking a nuclear pact with Iran, Confederate Flag waving, have all contributed to the further polarization of the Left & the Right, Conservative vs. Liberal, Bible Belt/Wheat Belt vs. East/West Coasts & our larger cities. E pluribus unum still means Out of many, One; but we are hardly definable by that precept any longer

It would be more accurate to admit that we are a nation of individualists, of special interest groups, of political parties & sub-parties, of religious and non-religious groups all seeking dominance in the dance of democracy. One group wins over another, then another group triumphs: thesis- anti-thesis; we never arrive at a synthesis for the common good.

It’s time we brought divergent groups, parties, & whoever to the table of human decency and admitted we live in a pluralistic society. We are bound together not to fight only for our own rights, but to fight for each other’s right to exist and to have a voice. We owe it to one another to learn NOT to tolerate one another, but to defend each other, to care about the prosperity and happiness of people who are not like us. We may not be “under God” any longer (probably never were), but at the very least we owe it to ourselves and to our children to work on a resolution to all the brawling for self-aggrandizing superiority.

IF we do not, this reactionary positioning will have reverberations well into many future generations.

Synthesis.

God help us all

  Gary

troubled

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Troubled, Crisis, Troubles, despairWhat troubles you? Money? Family? Relatives? Competition at Work? Feelings of failure? Emptiness? Mistrust? The list goes on. There are so many things that can get under our skin and irritate us without let-up. Some of us live our entire lives in frustration, crisis mode, turmoil. Nothing is ever settled. Nothing ever seems to work out. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) put it best—

Double, double toil and trouble;

 Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

~Macbeth

            In life, troubles will come; that’s a given. The issue is how we face them when they do come. Some people ignore their troubles, believing if they don’t address them they will go away. They won’t. Others put their troubles out of their mind, pretending they don’t exist. They do. Still others face their problems but have little hope of overcoming them alone. Yet they push on, commiserating with no one.

Most of us are troubled about something-or-another most of the time. Something is always troubling us. So please forgive me if I offer this sound, if risky, advice.

1.      Start with a thoroughly gut reaction! Cry, yell, sulk, hit something (not someone). If your emotions are raw, let them be raw. When something is eating away at your core you need to address it first at a primal level of gut reaction. Then, walk away. Get over it! After some time has passed, even within the same day, regain your composure and start to think clearly, peacefully. Address the issue head on. A true friend may be needed to give you honest advice..

2.      If you are an external processor, talk with a trusted friend who has some wisdom. If you are an internal processor, get alone for an extended time period; ruminate. Drink tea & remain calm.

3.      DO SOMETHING. What should be done first to solve this problem? What RESOURCES can be drawn upon to help you?

4.      Evaluate if your actions made a difference. To what degree did they help toward a solution to these troubles?

5.      What’s next?

6.      Pray for God’s wisdom and insight. You are not in this alone. If you do not believe in God or prayer, do it anyway. There might be a big surprise in the light at the end of the tunnel. (NO, not a train.)

7.      Learn to ask the questions that need to be asked; even if it turns out that YOU are the problem.

There are very few troubles that come our way that do not have a solution. Whether it comes from private pondering or picking the brains of our friends, or turning to God, these are always ways to face our fears and our foes, and to overcome them. DO NOT give up!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

Questionable Contracts

 Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christianity, Christian, Contracts, Questionable, Compromised,             It was a lovely dinner at their favorite restaurant with appetizers, wine, a beautifully presented main course and a special dessert, prearranged with the chef by John. Following a lengthy explanation the nature of commitment proclaiming his deep love for her, and a declaration of intent-to-marry, Sam dropped to one knee, gazed into Susannah’s eyes, and said those four heart throbbing words— Will you marry me?

She, of course, said yes! They were engaged. Over the next few weeks they excitedly told family and friends about their intended path toward matrimony, choose invitations, booked a place for the wedding/reception, and groveled at their parents’ feet for the $50,000 to pay for it all. They had much to discuss. Do I hear $12,000?

One night after watching a movie together, John slipped in the idea of having a prenuptial agreement, to assure their commitment would always last. Susannah was less than enthusiastic.

To be sure, contracts are meant to protect both parties in case something goes wrong with their commitment to each other. In business, that’s wise. In marriage? It seems more like a guarantee of temporary bliss followed by eventual failure.

The sad thing is that too many contracts are designed with loop-holes that can be used to default on the commitment. We think— If things don’t go perfectly (read- the way I want them to), then I’ll just sneak out of this one. Be it in a marriage or a merger, if we don’t get everything we want— we end it.

There are many reasons these escape clauses are slipped into contracts. One of the main reasons is that, over centuries, people have come to learn that they cannot trust one another, in business or in marriage. “I have to protect my own self first.” If people were inherently good this would not be a problem of course; but history shows otherwise.

Thus do we compromise on our commitments. We find those loop-holes that we can slip through and so slip our way out of the spirit of the agreement, though not the letter of the contract. We renege on our commitments in relationships, in business, and in life in general; all to protect ourselves and then the other parties.

What would happen if we put the other person or company first? What if the contract or marriage vow assured blessing and safety for the other first? Could we possibly be hurt or betrayed? Of course. But we would also be on our way to changing this world.

Remaining honorable in commitments rules out subsequent confrontation later.  Win/Win is always the best option.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

forgedaboutit

Dr, Gary, Davis, CS Lewis, Clueless, Christians, Christianity, Thought, the case for Christianity“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

—C.S. Lewis

The Case for Christianity, p. 32.

            So…, if you think about it…, well, actually, you can’t. Or at least you cannot trust your thoughts about it. But you can still try to think about it. Sorta…, I guess. Ah, forgedaboutit!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

My Coming Out

Dr, Gary, Davis, NakedPastor, coming out, honesty, Jesus, Clueless, Christian

@nakedpastor

My Coming-Out

            No, no, not that kind of “coming-out.” Something much more basic. But WHY now? Well…—

Over the course of EMPulse releases I’ve received numerous questions asking, “Who are you?” My kids would tersely answer, “Dad’s weird.” Nonetheless, I believe it is time for a tad more revelation about— me.

I am Gary West Davis, son of Earl Carlton Davis & Florence Adelaide Davis, brother to Carol (Norton) Davis, (a fact she regularly denies). I was born in inner-city Baltimore in the days when my dad worked for the railroad, my mom, for the new Social Security Administration. I, like all the other kids, joined a teenage gang. No big thing; we were all in one.

When dad received an appointment from President Eisenhower to head up a Congregational Sub-Committee on the Future of the Maritime Seaways we moved to the Baltimore suburbs so he could commute to D.C. more easily. For the first time in my life I experienced a suburban high-school. THAT was a real eye-opener. I could even go the bathroom in school without fear of being beaten up by a rival gang. Nice.

It was during these days in HS that I began to be concerned about our society, the world situation, and my place in it all. So I joined The Young Socialist Society (read Communist Party). I did things in those days of which I am not proud. But I wanted to make a difference. I wanted social change.

At the same time I was investigating the Christian faith, mostly because of the cute girls I found at church. But I turned my back on God when an overly-pious friend told me that real Christians don’t go to movies. He was clueless! I left the church for the next 3 years.

It was during my studies in Philosophy at college when I again confronted Christianity on an intellectual level. After 2 years of trying everything under the sun, I had no more arguments against the Christian life-philosophy. I gave up with the words,“I give up! I can’t fight You.” Thus began my life-long discovery of what this Christian thing, and the rest of life, is all about.

During my 3 years in seminary a local pastor took me on and challenged me on every aspect of my life. Fortunately, he was ruthless and didn’t put up with any of my crap. Thank God.

Today, after five graduate degrees, I find myself a writer, a trans-cultural communications consultant, and a counselor helping people get from A to B. Through it all I have pursued life with a passion that few have the privilege to do so. And it’s far from over!

I have THREE CORE VALUES. First, my relationship with myself; my personal integrity. I maintain it with great gusto. Second, my relationship with my family; my incredible wife, Starr, and my two kids, Joshua and Bethany, and now their families. And Third, my relationship with the God who made me— Jesus Christ. My devotion to Him is not up for discussion. [Yes, philosophically, some doubts remain; but only concerning certainty vs. certitude. Experientially, it’s a whole other story.]

So as you read any future, or past, EMPulse releases, remember that I am a man of passion, of relationships, especially when it comes to those in need, and of a deep devotion to my Lord. I still love single-malt Scotch, Volvos, and giving monthly gifts to my wife. So ends my coming-out; for now. More dirt later.

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

depression

Robin Williams, Danger, Depression, Suicide, despair, needinc, dr, gary, davis             Depression is a silent killer. You don’t even have to die to experience its death. You live the death just under your skin, suffocating your soul, 24/7. It is an insidious infection that never lets up.

Sure, you have moments of elation, rest, momentary peacefulness, or escape. I’ve struggled with it for years. When I first married, my new bride would describe me as morbidly introspective. Nice.

Yet on the surface I was upbeat, forward looking, powerful, and optimistic. Underneath, I always wondered if I measured up to peoples’ expectations. I was sure I didn’t.

So I performed better. And better. And… tried harder and harder… .

Robin Williams recent suicide brought it all back to me—the acting, the humor, the insecurity-amidst-confidence; and especially the fear of being known. I even wrote an article on it.

What drives such a successful man to draw an end to his life? In a word— despair. Def.- The conclusion that life holds no more for you. That managing life is now beyond your ability and/or desire. During my journey as a counselor three individuals have committed suicide under my care; one, premeditated, the other two, on the spur of the moment. I’ve always wondered if I could have prevented these needless deaths. My depression spiraled downward to the deepest depths.

If you could have walked through Robin Williams’ depression with him, what would you have said? What hope would you have offered? What reason to continue living? What great purpose would have fulfilled his life? Certainly his success as an actor and comedian did not bring him the fulfillment he so desperately hungered for.

Many fellow Christians might have offered him the reasons he sought in a relationship with Jesus Christ. But do you realize how strange that could have sounded to someone who had no hope, who sat outside the perimeters of God’s protection? It would have sounded farcical.

So many of us, Christians and normal people alike, place our hope in our personal security, our financial stability, and in our own abilities and self-confidence. I don’t think this is enough.

There is a great deal to be said for reestablishing a relationship with the God who made us. And for cleaning out the garbage of our lives. And for clearing the air with our friends.

I grieve Robin Williams death. He left us, unnecessarily, too soon.

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Differences

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christians, Christianity, NEEDinc, cow, differences, different No, really, sometimes it really does feel like this. People are just…, different. Maybe you’ve experienced differences in your marriage, with your teenagers (duh), or with those who say they are related to you. Certainly you’ve felt some people at work were “different.” You thought they were like this, and they turned out to be like that. Or…, something!

We are all different from other people. Sure, we may have the same character traits, financial status, eye color, body types, etc. But people are different; that is what makes our human lives so intriguing. We are never quite exactly the same. Different.

When people are different individually they can be stronger together, as a group. Their differences can bond them to support one another in a team relationship. More can be accomplished the moredifferent people, and their skills, come together to make our world a better place. Differences— joining together. Unless, of course, you believe that people who are different should all stay together in their own little group, sealed off from those who are different from them. Hummm.

Personally, I enjoy people who are different from me. I learn from them. I learn a lot. I do not have all the answers; it is through others who are different from me that I come up with new and differentquestions. And that’s a good thing. It leads to new perspectives, new answers.

That being said, I must admit that I enjoy the comradery of those who think in terms of cross-cultural communication, paradigm shifts, regional colloquialisms, and international blending. So I’m weird. What kind of people do you like to be around? Are they all the same…, or different?

My friends are a little of both. A weird bunch, to be sure. But still, I enjoy them.

So when you are deciding which crowd you want to hang with, don’t pick just one. Join different kinds of groups. Join up with people who are much older than you, and with those who are quite younger than you. In doing so you will learn from the wise, and remember how to play again from those who come after you.

I know I keep going back to the Bible, but it’s my heritage. Christians were first named Christians because no one knew what to call this hodgepodge, diverse, seemingly incompatible group of strangers who loved each other. The name stuck.

There probably isn’t a designation for the kinds of groups I associate with:  maybe wackos.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary