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

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Groundhog Insurrection

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christians, Groundhog, holiday, snow, winter, Phil                  After this past week of weather catastrophes it seemed a propitious time for a little fun. So let’s start with this odd question— What kind of culture could ever choose a Ground-hog’s emergence from his burrow and turn it into a national event?!? I mean, really!?!

Well…, that would be the United States. No other nation would use free-speech so frivolously. Nonetheless, in the northern hemisphere, it is the dead of winter. It’s dreary. It’s Sno-maggedon. Depressing. SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, blankets every city, county, and state. It’s a wonder we get through it at all. But we do have our skiing, snow-boarding, winter camping…, and warm fires, and hot chocolate, not to mention hot-tubs in the snow; 12+” more today. AND, Punxsutawney Phil, or Pete, or whoever it is now. Patricia? NAH! Real men would never stand for it.

First celebrated in Morgantown, PA (1841) on Candlemas Day, Groundhog Day was the forecaster of a second bout of winter or the heralding of an early Spring, depending on whether the little rodent saw his shadow. But earlier forms of GhD have been noted in both Germany & Scotland, two countries which definitely need an early Spring.

In my winters, getting out of bed in the dark just seems wrong. The cold, I can take. The snow, I love! But early mornings…, in the dark of winter! Not so much. What does get my warm feet on the cold floor is the thought that, today, I may just make a difference in someone else’s life. Right before the blizzard hit last week I handed a $20 bill to a homeless person. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Thank you. I’m going to go get something to eat, now.

Maybe we can’t change the weather with our actions, but we can most definitely change other things. Might I suggest we start with ourselves— then move on to help others grow. Small acts are sometimes quite significant in the lives of others.

                  What can you do today to improve another person’s life?  Not to feel good about yourself, or for some kind of recognition; simply do something for someone else because it’s the right thing to do.

So venture forth, Punxsutawney Phil, it’s a new day! You work on Spring: We’ll work on today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. Stay calm; and dig out…, again.

 

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

  Gary

Mostly Pure

Clueless, Pure, Garrison, Keilor, Mostly, Pure, Christian, Dr, Gary, Davis, NeedincIf you’ve ever driven ‘cross country on Saturday night you might have tuned-in to PBS’s PRAIRE HOME COMPANION, a weekly broadcast of Garrison Keilor, onetime resident of the ill-fitted Lake Wobegone, and modern satirical comedian.

The show is “sponsored” by the fictitious product “Powdermilk Biscuits,” whose slogan is “Made from whole wheat raised in the rich bottomlands of the Lake Wobegon river valley by Norwegian bachelor farmers; so you know they’re not only good for you, but pure … mostly,” which “give shy people the strength to get up and do what needs to be done. Heavens they’re tasty and expeditious.” Powdermilk Biscuits has its own theme song, sung by Keillor every week. And NO, I’m not going to sing it for you.

It has always been fascinating to me how something can be “mostly pure.” I question this every time I read the ingredients listed on our food products. “Mostly pure?!?”  I think. What does that mean? I also think of it at funerals when people speak of the deceased as “a good man.” It’s the reflection in their voice that gives me pause— like they’re trying to convince themselves of it.

Defining anything as mostly pure causes me to wonder if we even know what pure actually is anymore. A girl who is a virgin is defined as pure as she approaches marital status. “Pure 100% Virgin Olive Oil” makes me curious about what the other olive oils are. Are they like Dove Soap— “99.99% pure. It’s almost as if being described as pure is derogatory, especially if you are a young lass. I mean, who wants to marry someone who is still a virgin!?! Really.

Our culture doesn’t seem concerned with being pure in any way whatsoever, whether it be sexually, morally, politically, or in family and business priorities and commitments. Why is that?

Here are just four causes for our loss of concern for purity

1.      We’ve become jaded. Thanks to modern media we can learn everything about anybody. It’s on the Internet, in the Tabloids, and on Headline News. We’ve grown accustomed to our public figures, be they politicians, athletes, or celebrities, being “dirty” in some way. And we simply accept it.

2.      It’s all about winning. UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell (“Red”) Sanders has said “Winning isn’t everything: it’s the ONLY thing!” (1950) Win at all costs, by skill, cheating, trickery…, whatever. Just win!

3.      Our base concern is the Bottom-Line. Making money is the only thing that matters. Screw anybody, just to make a buck. Remember the Wall Street broker’s answer to the question?  “How much money is enough?”  “More! That’s why lawyers are brought in to arbitrate an agreement. It is assumed that both parties will write the contract in their favor exclusively. Purity and fairness never come into the equation.

4.      A total abnegation of personal and corporate (not to mention governmental) Integrity. We no longer have a problem with disguising a lie as a truth, or with omitting certain data to make ourselves look better. Pragmatism has supplanted personal integrity in unfathomable ways.

To change this cultural-life pattern is no simple task. But we must start (yes, again) to correct our ways before God and our fellow men & women. Might I suggest we start with our own lives and relationships, and then press on to demand some degree of personal integrity and purity from our cultural leaders? 99.99% is sounding pretty good. Mostly pure!

 

For what it’s worth,

  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

Beyond being in control

Gary, Davis, Control, Needinc, Clueless, Christians, Let it go, letting goStaying in control is probably the #1 value of most people in Western Society. Being out of control is scary; it is always lurking just below the surface of our consciousness. Personal security, personal independence, and personal significance are our TOP priorities (after food and shelter.) We have this innate fear of being out-of-control.

Some people take it too far; becoming micro-managers at work and a home. They must be hands-on and on-top of everything. If this attitude becomes embedded in a person’s psyche it creates issues of trust and insecurity. Even close friends do not want to be around them. Sometimes, it causes people to hide their true selves from those outside and to cocoon within a private world of fantasy or fear. This is not good for the soul.

However, there is another path to be taken for those who draw their strength and define their identity from somewhere beyond this present realm. It is for those who have decided that being in-control isn’t as safe and secure as they once thought. It is for those who are tired of working so feverishly to have power over everything around them. It is for those who are ready to let go.

Moving beyond being in control is frightening and terrifying. It means that you are consciously removing yourself from the button, the control switch, from being the central figure around whom all others must revolve. You must become such a person who will put your faith, your trust, in others, and, quite frankly, in God.

Why is it that we rise to our point of success in life, only to find a ceiling of doubt and emptiness at the top? The reason is that we were not meant to climb this ladder in isolation, as individuals; we were designed to do it in relationships: first, in relationships with those around us, and second, in relationship with the God who made us. This is not rocket-surgery; it is an obvious observance.

We must move beyond being in control to trust, to delegation, both of responsibility and authority, and to letting go. [Listen— Paul Cardall. Letting Go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUONnfHb7a8 ]. It is in letting go of control that we lose our tightness, our fears, our need for dominance, and put on the cloak of grace.

If you truly want to lead, then you must move beyond being in control and learn to let go.

 

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

Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christian, Christianity, Edge, Edges, Balance, innovate,Are you on the cutting edge? How do the edges of your life box you in? You need a sharp edge. Don’t go over the edge. Pushing the edge of the envelope. Edgy. The edge of tomorrow. The edge of extinction.

Pick a phrase— edges are at every corner of our lives. Some are boundaries, protecting us from going over the edge. Others leave paper cuts (ouch!). Other edges cut our steaks, or kill our adversaries. Or, metaphorically, draw us to move forward, daring us to test our limitations. Other edges cut dividing lines between families, peoples, countries, and ideologies. In one way or another, we are all on the edge of something.

My personal preference is to be on the cutting edge as much as possible— an innovator, rather than a late adapter. Not that I have to have the latest and greatest; rather, I like to create the future before it gets here. That’s all.

Someone once said to me, “Gary, you never seem happy with the way things are.” I responded, “Why thank you.” He retorted, “No, I meant that as a criticism.” I had taken it as a compliment. Different side of the blade, I guess.

What are your edges? Do they box you in? Cut paths where there are none? Or leave you with paper cuts? Whenever you try to cut through society’s crap, you are bound to get a little scraped up yourself. Is it worth it to you? Is it worth it to make a difference? To be on the next cutting edge? To make a difference?

Maybe you do not need to be an innovator. [Which tends to have a high risk-factor.] But please, don’t drag the rest of us into the “safe,” good-ol’-days of our past. Those edges are dull.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

The time machine

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christianity, NEEDinc, time machine, H G wells, future, journey

Where 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

 

Viral Infection

 

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Christianity, Viral, Infection, Runny, Nose‘Tis the season for summer colds; viri, if you please. In the last couple of weeks I have had two of them— one in my sinuses, the other on my laptop. Actually, ONE in my body, and 555 on my laptop. I was at the point of despair. I could not be productive because of “malware, viruses, Trojans (probably a few Spartans too), and worms,” and I could not breathe or think clearly because of the, er, mucus. It was disgusting, to say the least. Now, all is well!

Why is it that such small widdle infections shut down our bodies and render our electronic selves null and void?!? It’s just not fair! I want to live a vibrant, productive life; not one run down from some microbe impossible to see even under an electron microscope (die, you sucker!), let alone by some hacker’s idea of fun. (May the computer-gods have mercy on their foul deeds.)

But isn’t that just the way it goes sometimes? We make these great plans for our day, our life, then we wake up one morning with a runny nose; or our computer gives us so many pop-ups and redirects that we just want to chuck it against a wall!?! Does infuriating ring a bell?

It has always astonished me that the evolution theorists don’t seem to be talking to the chaos theoristsLeft to develop on their own, things do NOT improve:  they get worse, like a teenagers room. Left untreated my virus would run its course and run me down. Selah. Left unchecked, my computer virus would render my faithful widdle waptop useless. Selah.

Things are not getting better.

Certainly, we have great advances in medical technology, protecting the environment, improving the quality of life, even in constructing faster and more versatile computers. But, overall, would you say our world is a better place? My runny nose and CNN seem to indicate otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, these modern technologies and discoveries make my life easier and more productive every day, except for the recent 555 invasion. But we seem to have regressed to a phase of human development where individual power, national and/or religious rights, and the struggle for world dominance has supplanted civil, humanitarian respect for our fellow inhabitants of this planet.

Some people cry out “Why can’t we all just get along?!? Good question. The answer isn’t so pleasant.  Want it? At its core? Here’s my version—

We have turned our backs to the principles God set down at Creation

and decided we knew how to run things better than He does.

Thus, virus infections in both man and machine.

Just brilliant!

  Gary