April 22, 2014
I remember many years ago; 1982 to be exact, taking a class called, “Power For Abundant Living.” For me (and many others) it was just the greatest class in the whole world! In that class I learned the great simplicity of a life with God and how to believe to get the things I wanted for my life. But, as the years waned on, I began to complicate what was once uncomplicated. I added (or maybe I should say, learned to add) conditions and rules and expectations. Instead of cleaving to the truth that I could believe God for anything I needed, I began to doubt what I had learned and as a result began to fall prey to fear. And this, despite my thorough understanding from the class that fear was also believing, negative believing, which always led to failure and difficulty in some capacity. Instead of simply accepting who God said I was, I allowed others to define me according to my behavior which seldom was good enough. The more I worked to get good enough to receive from God, the further I got from Him and the less I actually believed for anything. Instead I accepted that my notions of tremendous freedom and liberty were really just notions and that the way to get the good things in life was to live a difficult existence where everything I did was under scrutiny. Being a guy that always loathed religion, I somehow became religious and the judgment others were leveling on me, I leveled on everyone else. So where exactly did I go wrong?
I went wrong by allowing the truth of the Word to become cloudy in my mind and instead started relying on others to define the rules of the game. And here’s a newsflash for you, once you let other people start defining who you are what you can and cannot do, you slide down that slope at an alarming rate! Sadly, however, you become unaware that you are sliding down that greasy path and start thinking just like everyone else does. You conclude that fear is just a part of life. I mean look around, who isn’t afraid? What you don’t realize is that you cannot believe positively and have fear at the same time. And that, my friends, sums up most people’s condition today.
No matter what people may have told you before, God is minutely interested in your happiness and well-being. It’s not, as some people foolishly say, selfish to pray for yourself or to pray to get your own needs met. God is certainly not too busy with world events to hear your requests either. Do you have any kids? Well I’m guessing that as a parent you are pretty dang concerned about your children getting their needs met, right? Well, God loves them even more than you do! The trouble is that God will not overstep your freedom of will. In order to get your prayers answered you have to believe. If you don’t believe what He promised or have fear involved, you are NOT going to get your prayers answered. Praying and praying and wishing won’t get the job done. Only believing, really believing is going to do it. Here’s a quote from that pretty, little orange book.
“We are what we are today because of our believing. We will be tomorrow where our believing takes us. No one ever rises beyond what he believes and no one can believe more than what he understands. We believe what we believe because of what we have been taught. We think the way we think because of the way we have been led.” ~ Dr. VPW (PFAL)
Your life, my life is a product of what we believe. We can start off fantastically well, then digress into fear and defeat, but the basis of it all is the things we believe good and bad, and the things we have been taught! We can learn to expect the best and we can learn to fear the worst. We can become educated about the reality of the life God intended for us or we can be educated about the complexity of life with God and eat crap for years! Oh me? Yeah, I’m a believing guy that ended up eating a lot of crap. But, praise the Lord, I’m finally starting to see with my spiritual eyes again and remembering the simplicity and beauty of life with God.
Your life is so intricately connected to the things you believe, that you really owe it to yourself to learn what and how to believe. Don’t believe for a second that believing is tied to someone else’s definition of morality. God doesn’t answer your prayers because you are so good, He answers them when you believe. In fact, God has so arranged life that anyone who truly believes, receives, regardless of their religious or non-religious background. The folks you observe enjoying success have believed for it and the people you see perpetually struggling are afraid (not unrighteous before God…just afraid!).
Don’t get it twisted people, life is not complicated. Error is complicated! Religious observances are complicated. The more than abundant life God promised in His Word is there for the taking, if you can simply believe!
I believe (again). Won’t you?
Just some good thoughts…
April 16, 2014
If you are like me and I prefer to assume you are because then I will like you more :-), you have learned to focus on those few areas that you need to improve rather than all of the things that make you awesome! It’s sort of like a sickness isn’t it? You spend 16 of your waking hours doing what you are supposed to do and 5 minutes saying something you shouldn’t have said and then spending another hour ruminating on why you said it and that you really shouldn’t have said it. Sound familiar? Wouldn’t it seem reasonable to applaud yourself for 16 hours of solid effort and to pay little attention to your one mistake? Indeed!
The world we live in, rife with media input, has done a masterful job of tricking you and me into obsessing over anything that may hint at imperfection. “My belly is too fat!” which discounts the fact that the ideal “belly” belongs to a 16-year-old with the metabolism of a racehorse. Or my hair or my eyes or my feet are too large or my cankels etc., etc. Whether it be physical imperfections (assuming there is “physical perfection”) or problems with our character or a propensity to sin (so-called) or just plain ol’ ability to actually make mistakes, we have universally bought into a gigantic scheme that gets us to focus on what’s wrong with us instead of focusing on our good bits…
So you might be asking, why does it even matter? Well, it matters because incessant focus on what is wrong with you leads to one perpetually long, unhappy existence. “I’m no good” “I’m not okay” “Why can’t I be like such and such” all presume a condition that may not actually exist. What if you are very, very similar to most human beings? What if the things you think and say and do are remarkably like the things most people think and say and do? What if, huh? What if that hour you just wasted obsessing over the “dumb thing” you said at the staff meeting was forgotten by everyone at the staff meeting 5 minutes after it ended? Pointless me thinks…
But here is another thing to consider that trumps even a wasted unhappy life. If it’s true that what you focus on expands, then focusing on what is wrong can only lead to more and more of “what is wrong!” Chew on that for a moment… If, unbeknownst to you, the things you focus on in life are conspiring to come your way, then it seems focusing on what you don’t like can only produce more and more of “what you don’t like.” Are you beginning to see the large-scale scheme I was referring to earlier? Let’s say you are a pretty good person, according to your own estimates, but you have a few weaknesses. So you spend inordinate amounts of time working on your weaknesses. Sure, it seems noble because you are, after all, working on them. But, here’s a thought, have you ever known a successful person that spends more time working on their weaknesses than what they are good at, who remains successful? Probably not, right? Successful people, while fully aware of their weaknesses, choose rather to focus on the things in which they excel. Obsessing over weakness serves only to exemplify weakness. How many good-hearted people have you met that can’t go 5 minutes into the conversation without telling you something that is “bad” about themselves? Or conversely, how many people have you met that even dare to mention something they are good at? World-wide sickness, my friends.
A wise man named Eric taught me long ago in a conversation about child rearing, that the way to get your child past their problems is by highlighting the things they do well! Think about that for a moment. Your child is sitting there quietly watching TV and you don’t say a word, but as soon as they get rambunctious, you want to give them a lecture, thereby reinforcing the behavior you don’t like! What works for children works for adults, except adults no longer have their parents to guide them in the way in which they should go.
So the solution, weary travelers is to decide to stop focusing on what is wrong with you. The Good Lord, who knows everything, is well aware of your imperfections and loves you just the same and always will! He’s not unhappy with you, so you owe it to yourself to follow suit. Focus on the best parts of yourself. Focus on the good things you have in your life. Focus on the miracle that is your life and in so doing can begin to appreciate what you do have and not obsess on what you don’t have.
If you will become determined to focus on the good, then you will find the good has actually been pursuing you all along. Let that good catch up to you by being so grateful for the life you already have. And for an added bonus, try focusing on the good in other people as well. Shoot, you may just find yourself surrounded by a lot of wonderful people.
Focus on your good bits!
Just some good thoughts…
April 10, 2014
You know what you need to do with those loose threads, right? Snip ‘em, burn em’, yank ‘em, do something, just don’t leave them there dangling, annoying you all day. Funny how something so small and insignificant can make such an impact on your mind. Similarly, loose thoughts; thoughts that we sort of let hang around, dangling, uninvited yet apparent, impact our lives in a profound way. We often find ourselves out-of-sorts, anxious or restless with no earthly idea why. We know we don’t feel peaceful, satisfied or assured, but the cause escapes us. And to make matters worse, we start looking for the cause in our surroundings or in our spouse, job, house etc. But in so doing, we miss the mark by a hundred miles. The real cause is likely a loose thought or number of loose thoughts we failed to snip, burn or yank out.
Assuming you’re not drunk, it’s likely you are somewhat aware of the thoughts going through your mind. I mean you are the one doing the thinking after all. And, for a thought to have any type of impact on you it has to have registered at some level. So, it’s not so much what you thought but rather what you did or failed to do with those thoughts. Intentional living is all about doing something with those rogue thoughts. Amazingly, three or four unchecked vagrant thoughts can alter your mind and your mood in a subtle yet powerful way. Imagine you just woke up and a number of ill-defined thoughts are running through your mind. Your throat has been sore lately and since you smoke cigarettes it’s likely to be throat cancer. I mean you saw that Terri lady talking through that talk box. Randomly leading to, “It’s good that we have the money to make our patio an awesome place and wow, once all the flowers and bushes are inside the curbing it will be a showplace. But, it won’t matter much because shortly after you start inviting people over to enjoy it, you will be dead.” Followed by, “Things have been going very well lately. It’s shame that such a tragedy is coming!” As strange as this sounds, this was me yesterday morning. When I finally got up I was irritated. I drove to work talking to God about why I “always” seemed to feel restless and pondering why I couldn’t relax. I arrived at work still melancholy, still restless and wondering if something at work was bringing me down. And I began to work. Several hours later, while taking a mental break, it hit me like lighting a candle in a dark room. “Remember this morning Tony? You pretty much assigned yourself a death sentence. Who is happy and relaxed if they think they are going to die soon?” Ahhhhh, loose thought, unsnipped! So, I snipped that mutha******* with some good thoughts (that always involve God)!
As incredible as it sounds, it really is that simple. But, when your living the unsatisfied life, it never seems that way. Some folks have been victim to their own unchecked thoughts a lifetime. And worse, some will even argue adamantly that “we don’t need no thought control!” Well, you do need thought control my friend, at least enough control to kick out the occasional intruder. You do realize that just because you thought something doesn’t make it true right? Thoughts, even incredibly believable, strong thoughts are still just thoughts. And when those thoughts are against your best interests; your happiness, they must always be annulled. Failure to check them; failure to address them leads to stolen days and ultimately stolen lives. It’s that serious and it matters that much.
I think, if you are honest with yourself, you will recognize that whenever you let your thoughts “run wild,” or have one of those days when you take a mental vacation, you are never the better off for it. Ever have a weekend where you had absolutely nothing to do and did absolutely nothing? You know that a weekend like that was stressful at best. It’s not that you needed to be busy or overloaded with activity, but rather that you still needed to pay attention to your thoughts and still needed to check them if needed. Ha…you thought you were just feeling bad for being lazy. Lazy in activity maybe, but lazy in watching your thoughts, that’s what got you!
All of us, no matter what has happened in the past; no matter how we thought and what we let go and didn’t let go, can only live in the time period called, now! Now is always all we have folks. So, why not decide right now to pay better attention to those troubling thoughts. Decide that when you are feeling bad, no matter how that shows up, you will take the time to track down those rogue thoughts and handle them as the lies they always were! Your life; your day to day existence is worth that my friends. Contrary to the philosophers you don’t have to give up your happiness for even one minute. Life isn’t full of ups and downs, it’s full of thoughts, checked and unchecked.
Chickety check yourself before you wreck yourself!
Just some good thoughts…
April 2, 2014
There is a great conundrum in life that holds you back from being the person you would really like to be. You have these wishes; these dreams for yourself that you fondly imagine, but you are waiting for something to happen in order to bring them to pass. In short you are waiting, waiting, waiting. You’re waiting for the “right” time; the “right” circumstances; the “right” situation. As for me, I fancy myself as a writer. I mean I love to write, right? But finding the “right” time to write, I can’t get right! Right? Or, I’m waiting for some inspiration or good feelings or some passion. But here’s the thing, inspiration doesn’t start until I decide to write, whether the time is right or not. (Okay, okay I’ll get off the write/right pun…) So…Life is like that my friends. You are waiting on life to happen to you and life is waiting on you to happen to it! You are waiting to finally decide and life is waiting for your final decision. Oh the conundrum!
Yeah I totally get where you are coming from. You want to decide on something, a direction; a future; an end to “that thing,” but you feel like there’s a bunch of stuff to line up before you can decide. Therein lies hidden the catch. The starting point for making anything happen is the decision. The feelings come after the decision and never before! Again, because you have to get this point, the starting point for anything is the decision! You decide fully and the feelings, the inspiration, the desire, all follow in accordance with your decision. So you muse, “Well, how come you call yourself a writer and have already decided you are, yet struggle finding/making time to write?” The simple answer? I really want to be a writer; really love writing; honestly believe I can write, yet haven’t fully decided I’m going to do it yet! LOL Yes I’m that honest… You see, a fully resolved decision has no plan B, no turn back point! Procrastinating, hoping, wishing, waiting all point towards an un-finalized decision. Make the decision!
You can change, revolutionize, or drastically alter any aspect of your life from your health status to your personal prosperity simply by making an informed, serious, fully resolved decision. Your job isn’t to worry about how it is going to happen or when or where and in what form! Your job is simply to decide. The details of your desire are preceded by your decision. Decision comes first! Okay, let’s just say you are full of fear. It’s easy to be that way because not only is the world a very scary place, but the media does a supreme job of pointing out all possible dangers from what you eat to where you live to even the air you are breathing. Before you realize it you can become afraid of your own shadow. “Frit to death and done note” according to the wisdom of my British Mum. You find yourself living in fear most of every day. You can’t relax. You’re restless and anxious. You live in the perpetual fear of WHEN the other shoe is going to drop with disaster on its heel! (that was funny!) You don’t like the fear. You wish you could stop it and get over it once and for all. And, you can by deciding. Decide by God that you are sick and tired of being afraid and running from what might happen and just acquiesce in the idea that you will deal with “it” when/if “it” comes! And, if you will truly resolve yourself to the idea, you will find that life is ever waiting and conspiring with you to bring it to pass. No fear. It works this way with anything you want to do; want to stop doing etc., etc. For real!
You don’t believe me? Okay, find someone tomorrow and ask them if they could do anything in the world they wanted to do, what would they do? Now, I don’t mean play in the NBA if they are 50…LOL I mean anything they would do “today” if they could. Listen carefully to their answer. Then ask, why don’t you do that now? Then get comfortable because you are going to be there awhile listening to all of the reasons they have to wait; get more money; finish their schooling etc. Notice if you hear any indicator that they have already decided fully and completely. Then come back and read this blog with an increased vigor. The truth about this awesome life you and I are privileged to live is that we can change anything in it if we will only decide to do so.
If your life isn’t turning out the way you planned (and whose does?) then get quiet, do some serious thinking and make some real decisions. Your good life is still waiting on you!
Just some good thoughts…
March 18, 2014
Well you gotta read it first!
Originally posted on justsomegoodthoughts:
For a relationship to be healthy, you have to be able to talk; talk about anything. And generally, it’s best to talk about the offending situation the moment it blips across your radar screen. You know exactly when that remark or that attitude or that look sent you a message that didn’t agree with your mental harmony system. You know, right? So why would you put that message on the back burner or worse fear the repercussions of bringing it up?…
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March 13, 2014
Living in Utah, we are often subjected to inversions. The inversions occur because we live in a valley and all of the pollutants get trapped in the air making it difficult to breathe. There’s not enough air flow, absent a storm, to remove the gunk from the atmosphere resulting in a serious health risk! So how does this apply to your relationships? Before we proceed, read the above again…
For a relationship to be healthy, you have to be able to talk; talk about anything. And generally, it’s best to talk about the offending situation the moment it blips across your radar screen. You know exactly when that remark or that attitude or that look sent you a message that didn’t agree with your mental harmony system. You know, right? So why would you put that message on the back burner or worse fear the repercussions of bringing it up? In fact, with people you care about and especially those you love, you owe it to yourself and them to always bring it up. Often young married couples, for fear of offending or worse, losing the object of their affections, choose silence, only to discover later that the initial offending issue not only comes back, it comes back with hair on! Bring it up. If it leads to a big argument, so what. It’s better to have the mother of all arguments than to pretend you are okay when you are not okay. It’s better to have the war and come to an agreement than to avoid the war and live amidst the constant skirmishes. Peace often comes after the war, right?
Like an inversion, allowing pollutants to stay in your mental air risks the health of your relationship. Maybe you need a quick storm or two. Maybe. People often seem to think that harmony in a relationship comes from letting things go. Oh sure, there’s nothing wrong with compromise, as compromise helps maintain a relationship, but letting things go is always bad news. Being married for many years now, I can tell you with complete confidence that every issue you bury under the guise of keeping harmony is going to come back with a vengeance and unreasonably all together in one moment of time. That one fight on that one bad day will turn into a floodgate of unresolved issues seeing the opportunity to finally get out of your heart. And like a pressure boiler that takes on more pressure than it can handle, it’s gonna blow boy and blow at catastrophic levels. So take my advice and speak up often.
None of us want to hear the things we have done wrong or hear extolled to us our faults and our failings. None of us look forward to that conversation ever. But always hidden within that conversation, if we have ears to hear, is some gem of truth that speaks to our hearts. In the middle of all that anger and yelling and accusation sits a little minuscule, almost unnoticed piece of truth that alerts our battered heart of some wrong done; some sensitivity walked over; some selfishness we have engaged in. And when we see it; when we finally see it and feel remorse over the thing we have done, healing takes place; a healing that transcends many, many infractions. That my friends, is the point of the discussion, the fight, the argument, or whatever. In a sense you are kicking up the winds that will eventually blow that inversion out of your way so you once again see clearly. How many relationships have come to an end because we didn’t love enough to say what needed to be said? How many breakups could have been avoided if we had the honesty to say what really was.
Now to those of you who have already loved and lost, I offer the following. There’s a bible verse that tells husbands to love their wives and be not bitter again them. Bitterness comes unannounced from a multitude of unresolved hurts be they ever so slight. Bitterness is born of the small many, not of the large few. But once bitterness takes root, it takes on a life of its own and permanently blinds a heart that once could see and feel and experience. In it’s bitter state it is now poisoned and goes on poisoning everything it comes into contact with until it ruins the person completely. Don’t let that be you. Stop rehearsing the past hurts, the wrongs done to you, the pain. Stop carrying around in your memory those unbearable weights. Instead allow yourself to start again; to start over. Resolve in your heart that you will never allow that to happen to you again. If you can still speak those words you have buried for so long, speak them, though the hearer be long past listening or understanding. If not, speak them to God alone and be now done with it, forever… You are worth that.
Inversion air is hard to breathe and puts your health at risk. Poison cannot exist where there is fresh, clean air. Clear the air between yourself and the people who you care about. Speak up about the things you hold most dear. Forgive where forgiveness is needed and be the person you always wanted to be. You can. You should. You owe it to yourself.
Ah what is that I’m feeling? The feeling that comes from finally breathing a breath of clean, pure, fresh air… And it feels so good!
Just some good thoughts…
March 6, 2014
I know what you are thinking… Man all this dude ever writes about is fear! Well, that’s for good reason. The number one problem you have, recognized or not, is fear. Fear is what holds you back. Fear is the great thwarter of dreams and plans. Fear is the cause of your negative effects. Fear!!! So, indulge me yet again and hear what I’m saying. Fear has ruined more men’s lives than all other things combined. Fear isn’t just that terror that shows up when you see a bear. Fear is often much more subtle than that. It shows up as hesitation and procrastination; anxiety attacks, frustration and even anger. And, you have got to kill it off man, if you want to be happy. So, more stuff to think about, right?
Shocking statement number one – believe it or not, fear is actually a decision. That’s right! It’s not something that just happens and you have to wait it out. Nope! It’s a decision you are making. You (your mind) is presented with some negative variable; some dreadful potentiality, and depending upon how well that threat relates to you as being possible, fear follows. You aren’t really afraid of the mountains blowing up while you climb them, but maybe so if it is a volcanic mountain. So, how fear hits your mind will always be somewhat relatable to you and your experiences. That shows you that something sinister is behind it. Anyway, when you get confronted with that fiery dart of negativity, you have a decision to make. Oh, you don’t feel like you need to make a decision, but you do. You have to decide IF that thing can happen to you. And sadly, the more you mull it over in your mind, the more ground it gains and the more believable the fear becomes.
To win the contest, and it is a contest, you have to believe that whatever is presented is not going to happen to you. This is where God enters the picture. If you believe in God and His love and protection of you, you can dismiss that fear by claiming a promise in God’s Word that counteracts that fear. Side note – every potential fear that you will ever be confronted with has an antidote in God’s Word. Or, if the promise escapes you, you can always pray about it and even ask God for an answer of peace. Without God the world is going to be a very scary place. In fact, absent any belief in God’s ability to do things, you can pretty much be assured of a life full of fear.
There is another aspect of fear we should consider. Those particular fears that have been plaguing you or have been following you around for a lifetime, are the worst types of fear. You can spot them fairly easily because they represent the sole cause for where you struggle the most. It’s not the circumstances, your upbringing, your family, your lack of money or your gene pool. It’s fear! The reason that they are clinging to you like a hair shirt is because they have gained a stronghold in your thinking. Yes, they started as a foothold, but because of your insistence on allowing them entrée, they became a stronghold. In the military when we speak of the enemy having a stronghold, we mean he has a strengthened, fortified position. Well, fear in like fashion, is an enemy (something sinister) that has built a fortified position in your head. Now, hear me out because this might make you angry. The reason that you still have certain fears is because of your ego. (Argghhh – I know!) You are stubbornly clinging to what you think you know is true, because you just know! Even if God Himself told you audibly that it was just a lie, you wouldn’t believe it because you know better! I mean after all, haven’t you heard the news reports? Have you not studied the latest scientific research? Are you asking me to completely disregard the current medical findings? Yes, yes and no, of course not! What I’m asking you to consider is that there is something, someone far greater in ability than men and what men say. Isn’t it even remotely possible that what the world promotes as true cause and effect isn’t really the cause that produces the effect? (Let that simmer…) So, the reason certain fears defeat you on an epic, chronic level is because you are refusing to let them go. You, my friend, are refusing to change your mind and just decide they aren’t true.
Fear is always a lie; always wrong and always an illusion. The enemy works hard to get you to fear because fear is believing for something to happen in the negative. And believing equals receiving, as the saying goes… Thus, the first step in overcoming fear is to admit you have it. If you catch yourself telling some scenario over and over that you aren’t afraid of it – you are. Once you acknowledge it by being honest with yourself, you are finally on the way to overcoming it. Next find something good that God says concerning it and cleave to that. Every time you think of your situation or condition, claim that promise until the fear is gone. And finally, get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Make a decision! Decide you are over being afraid of ____________, and move ahead. You will find, surprisingly, that once you stop giving “it” airplay, it just sort of dies out. It dies out because it was a lie to begin with!
Now, if you are still saying you have no fear, I hear you… Say on my brother! But a life of peace, tranquility, abundance and health is waiting for you on the other side of that mountain; that mountain made of clouds. Choose life…
Just some good thoughts…