February 8, 2013
Have you ever been in a situation where you are being nice or kind and someone takes a shot at you? You know what I mean. You are minding your own business and getting your stuff done with a great attitude and suddenly someone comes along and pees in your Cheerios! You were really having a great day; you were feelin’ it and then, “KAPOW” someone pays back your love with nastiness or anger. In that moment of time; in that instant you have a choice to make. Will you take the high road or will you lower yourself to meet them on the low road? Sure in the moment the low road feels good! Sure you get mad and you can think of a whole lot of stuff to say, but after that moment is over with, where do you go from there? Don’t you feel a little embarrassed; a little angry with yourself? Don’t you really wish you wouldn’t have let them take you there? But alas, there you went and here you are…
I had just such an incident happen to me yesterday. I teach a course on building relationships and was working on preparations to go and teach the course at our program in Northern California. After about four days of preparation, in addition to also having to carry out my responsibilities as the Program Manager here in Utah, it became apparent that I had formerly sent out the wrong materials for the workbooks to the Program Manager (my peer) in California. It was a pretty serious error on my part because she had to print binders with about three hundred pages in each, times twelve binders. Uggghhhh… So after realizing my error I tracked down the cause to the new training disk I was using; which unbeknownst to me, had numerous chapters in the workbook mislabeled. So I reached out to my compadre with a very sincere apology (high road) and offered empathy acknowledging what a burden I was placing on her (high road); offered to help make it right with her (high road) and apologized some more (high road). Well, much to my surprise she responded with some serious nastiness. She informed me in no uncertain terms that she was not going to spend any more time at Staples and did not have time for that crap! I repeated the above process acknowledging and apologizing (high road) which landed me an even nastier response, “I don’t care if there was a problem with the disc, I’m a Program Manager and frankly don’t have time to do this before next Tuesday!” As you can imagine, by now I’m thinking of quite a few “low road” comments like, “I have been preparing this crap for your folks (not my folks) for four days now and oh by the way, I share the same responsibilities you do in addition to what I’m doing!” (Followed by some angry swear words of course!) I chose otherwise and waited for a response. I waited and waited and waited, all the while telling my ego to hush and “no! don’t you type that!” I had a choice to make. I could choose love and take the high road or I could indulge my anger and go down in the bushes for a fight. After some time went by and nothing appeared to be changing, I decided to text her. In my text, I apologized again and offered to help in any way that I could, stating again my understanding of what a pain in the a** this must be for her. Shortly thereafter, she texted me back and said she would make the copies for the training. But, I didn’t stop there. I asked if that meant she still loved me (tongue in cheek) to which she responded, of course! No bruised egos, no hard feelings, no fractured relationship.
So what did I learn? I learned that I just cannot lose when I choose the high road. Love truly never fails! Sure I had to swallow some anger and you might even offer that I allowed her to walk all over me. But, I didn’t feel like someone took advantage of me. Instead I felt like I chose God’s love (for God’s sake) and was subsequently rewarded with loving feelings and great satisfaction. That’s not to say there aren’t times when you have to draw lines or speak up; no, not at all! But, when in doubt, why not choose the high road instead? It’s hard for folks to point fingers at you when you have chosen the high road. In fact, it’s hard to even stay angry with someone who refuses to be angry with you (try it out sometime!). I don’t know about you, but I’d rather end the day having chosen good than to succumb to evil. And, it’s certainly no coincidence that when you set your mind for good, that trouble comes along. Something, somewhere is conspiring for you to make choices that end up only hurting you in the end.
So, instead of being overcome with evil, why not overcome evil with good? (Tadaaaa…Bible verse) Why not choose love? Not because you are a wimp or spineless or afraid, but because it matters far more what God thinks than what people may think. And here’s a promise for you, if you habitually choose the high road, soon you will find yourself living on it and you will be one happy son of a gun! Haha
When in doubt, take the high road…
January 30, 2013
Having recently survived an election season, one thing has become alarmingly clear, our generation has forgotten how to think for themselves. Sure, we are still thinking, but how much are we thinking for ourselves? Lest you get defensive, allow me to explain what I mean. With the advent of the media machine, social networking and 350 cable television channels, we are told what to think for the majority of our waking lives. And, since we cannot seem to detach ourselves from the electronic information flow, we unknowingly succumb to ideas we don’t agree with and beliefs that are not our own. Someone “in authority” says something and we quickly, without hesitation accept it as true. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a good passive television watcher. I just can’t seem to let things go that strike against my beliefs and so I make comments; annoying comments, much to my wife’s dismay (haha God bless her!). Politics is an excellent example of what I mean (I know, I know, it’s just politics…or is it?). The President makes a statement about something such as finding a way to control the gun violence that plagues America. The news media interprets that as a ploy to rid the American people of weapons; Facebook gets on board and before you know it, a million frightened people start stock piling assault rifles; posting insanely slanted slogans about the President taking away our constitutional rights and so on. My point however, isn’t that everything our President says is true necessarily, but rather, “what do you think about what is going on?” …You, yes you personally! Not Fox News, not Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh etc., etc. That, of course doesn’t mean that you cannot totally agree with what someone says, but have you really given the subject any thought? (Maybe you have, right?) You see most of the time, if not all of the time, the media just scares the hell out of you and thus you start making decisions based on fear or mass hysteria. I mean really, some states seriously entertained seceding from the union. (Oh my lanta!)
Maybe that political topic is just too heated for you to hear what I’m saying here, so I will use another example. What is your personal belief system? I mean really, what do you believe? When people ask me what “religion” I am, I hesitate to even answer because the words even used to describe a belief are so emotionally charged. Personally, I loathe religion because it represents the ultimate in “non-thinking” activity! (Yeah loathe is a strong word!) If I say I’m a Christian, off go the minds to images of crackpots burning abortion clinics or picketing funerals; attributing evil to God by “somehow” concluding that God “hates” such and such and thus brought about catastrophe…(????) As if… Do you see what I’m saying? No thought, just assumption and generalization. When I ask people what they believe, they can scarcely even answer the question. Not because they don’t know necessarily, but rather because what they say might not be the right answer… Yet, your right answer would be your honest answer to the question, don’t you think? And let’s not even talk about using logic in this scenario. Religion is fraught with illogic, yet maintained as truth. Again, I don’t know about you, but I can’t get with illogic, especially when it comes to God. Hmm..let’s see, He makes me sick to heal me? He can without warning or reason kill off entire families in terrible accidents because it was their time; or because He called them home? Have you noticed that even when people pray they say things like, “please let me get this job or please don’t let my children get hurt” as if God is working from the other side and we are beseeching Him “NOT” to do something. Illogical wouldn’t you say? Now I get it, most often people don’t understand and thus accept what others say as truth, but wouldn’t you want to understand? Or at minimum wouldn’t you want to say that it just doesn’t make sense, at least? I believe that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (Because that’s what He says about Himself!). I also believe that He is pure love. So call me a zealot, but I can’t get with the idea that He does evil sometimes for some reasons. Yes, that’s what I think! (haha) You may disagree entirely, but you cannot argue with the logic. Most times logic is explained away with catch phrases such as, “you gotta have faith brotha” which is code for I don’t understand either! You can’t believe in things you cannot understand. How could you? You have to have at least some understanding in order to believe anything.
So there, I successfully discussed politics and religion! Hey, maybe that’s why people say you cannot discuss either topic because neither one is generally based on any logic! But lest (yes I used lest again) you miss the point of this blog, we as a generation need to recognize how this old world is seducing our minds over to the land of Nod. We have so much information available at our finger tips, that we tend to think less and parrot more. So I say, why not think for yourself and say what you think? If you don’t agree, say so! Don’t you admire that rare, select breed of people who tell you they disagree and why? (I know I do!) However, I don’t always admire those folks who tell you what they think and then fail to have a “why…” (That’s why they invented the delete option on Facebook…I digress) So, we need to get back to good old-fashioned thinking.
And finally, if you will indulge me, these days we have so much division when it comes to race, or at least that division has been brought to the forefront. Race relations or the lack thereof can also be a product of the non-thinking masses. Here’s a fascinating fun-fact! A black person’s needs, wants and desires are generally the same as a white person’s needs, wants and desires, just as black labs tend to behave like white labs (haha). To conclude that black people are lazy and love getting welfare means you have turned off your thinker somewhere. People are people folks with the only real differentiating quality being skin color and hair styles. Sure we have cultural differences, but to feel like you have to shake someone’s hand a certain way or speak with a high-pitched voice and mention Hennessy a lot is justifiably nutso. Do you, be you and you will be able to relate. Do the stereotype and expect annoyance. And, if you must post that emotionally charged Facebook postcard that you thought was so funny, just be sure it represents what you really think because that’s how it will be taken. I have often said that a down side to Facebook is that it lets you know how people “really” think and sometimes that aint so good! The same logic rightfully applies to “Mexicans” “Polys” and every other group folks are quick to negatively characterize.
The solution? Slow down a bit and give things a little thought. Don’t get swept away in rhetoric or manipulated public opinion. Be a person that considers and be willing to admit when you may have gotten something wrong. Lord knows I’ve lived long enough to admit being wrong more than I’ve been right, but at least I’ve tried to employ a certain level of thought. Have a “why” behind your belief or at least be able to say you are undecided. Democrats aren’t always right; Republicans aren’t always right; Black folks aren’t always right; White folks aren’t always right. Only God is ALWAYS right and He wants us to think! Afterall, we are the only species with that capability!
Let’s wake up to the beauty that is this life and ‘think’ how we can make it that much better!
Just some good thoughts…
January 26, 2013
In our frenetic world today, people have lost sight of the core essence of what it means to be a thinking, human being. We run from this activity to that activity; we have never-ending ”to do” lists; we are so so busy with our requirements, that we rarely have time to sit down and consider what is driving our decisions. We are bombarded with news media, social media; we have computers, iPads, iPods, iPhones, cell phones, droid phones and a host of other devices to keep us connected to everything, everywhere, at all times. Thus we find ourselves left with one large, looming consequence; we don’t have time to think. We have become collectively distracted and in our distraction have lost sight of who is in control of our lives. And by surrendering control we “all like sheep have gone astray.” We have secretly been funneled with the masses of society into well-worn paths that always lead to misery and futility.
There are really only two great motives in life; love or fear. All of humanity is basing their decisions; their plans; their thinking on one of the two… Love comes from God and has nothing harmful in it. Love empowers men and women and gives them back control in their lives. Love puts the energy into a life and like a gently flowing river is refreshed day by day. Fear is just the opposite. Fear comes from the enemy and has nothing good or useful in it (Nothing!). Fear controls people and binds them down like slaves. Fear stops all forward movement and as the lion roars to freeze its prey, fear roars and brings our lives to a standstill. “Fear is sand in the machinery of life.” (Eli Stanley Jones) Fear stops all forward movement. Fear harasses and attacks and controls. Fear is the hidden power behind all the suffering in this world and if allowed to continue without being rigorously and thoroughly purged will lead to ruin and defeat in EVERY situation and in EVERY case. Fear breaks our minds down and in that divided state makes us insane. Fear wrecks marriages; destroys our businesses; invites sickness; welcomes catastrophe; ensures poverty; murders, steals, hurts, harasses, controls, ruins and reduces us down to a mere fraction of the person we once were. In short, fear sucks!
So, how can we overcome this seemingly insurmountable enemy and bring restoration and wholeness to our lives? How can we get back all that has been stolen from us? How can we get off the treadmill and get out of the rate race? How can we regain control of our lives and once again live peacefully and confidently? We can do it by making a decision! Our life isn’t just happening to us; we are happening to it! And in contrast to our former ignorance when we sat there frozen in the bushes waiting for the lion to strike, we can now make the decision to get the hell out of those bushes and get on with our lives. Fear, like every other slippery deception must be dealt with swiftly. We don’t answer fear; entertain fear; dialogue with fear; rationalize with fear; try to understand and analyze fear; or, for God’s sake, make friends with our fear. The moment we take that approach we lose. We don’t proclaim to ourselves over and over, “I’m not afraid! I’m not afraid! I’m not afraid!” Instead we simply move forward with love. Mature love casts out fear. We decide adamantly that we will not think the thoughts of fear. Oh I know, it’s very tempting to try to figure it out. “Maybe if I just run this scenario through my head one thousand times I will be able to figure it out.” So, uhhhh, how’s that working out for you? Getting any closer? Almost got it? NO! Hell no! All you get when you do that is more fear, more fear, more fear… Sure you’re smart; sure you’re logical; sure you can figure stuff out, but when it comes to evil, you aint that smart! You lost before you began. The moment you entertained it (in your wisdom), you lost. And you know why that trick always works on humans? Because the adversary makes an appeal to your ego. He is banking on the fact that you, like all humans will try to figure the dang thing out. But fear has a spiritual basis and your human mind aint gonna figure that one out. So, like every other deception the enemy tries to work us over with, our job is to simply do what God said to do about it and refuse to engage in a discussion otherwise. When Eve paused to consider what the devil asked her to consider, she lost! When you keep running that fear through your mind over and over, you lose! Soon you will become a walking, talking anxiety attack, mentally threadbare and defeated.
God does not want us to live in fear. God wants to deliver us out of fear. How would you feel as a parent if you had to watch your child being controlled and bullied and beaten? Do you like it when your children are afraid? Do they think soundly when they are afraid? Are there really boogeymen? Of course not, but when you are afraid aren’t you doing the same thing? And what do you tell your children? “Ummm don’t be afraid son”…end of story? No! You tell them something to counteract that fear. You give them something to put in their minds to replace it. “Mommy and Daddy protect you son and we won’t let anything get you!” Sure you might point out there is nothing under the bed, but you don’t suggest they sit in the darkness and try to figure it out. You turn on the light before you do the inspection. Well, that’s how you overcome fear. You turn on the light before you do the inspection. What does God say about the thing you are so afraid of? Turn on the lights! Things aren’t so scary when the lights are on. If you hear a potential intruder outside your house, you turn the lights on. Sure the light might not make him go away, but in the light you can figure out what to do next. That’s what love does, it turns on the light so you can figure out what to do next, ultimately leading to God’s solution which is infinitely bigger than any intruder!
So, let’s just get honest with ourselves when we are afraid and seek a solution. Call a thing, a thing! “I can’t leave this job I hate because I need the money!” = Fear. “I can’t tell him what I really think because he will leave me!” = Fear. “I cannot forgive her for what she did!” = Fear. I cannot get past this big negative thing that happened to me!” = Fear. The reality is that you can do all of those things, but fear has you under its control and is feeding you another story. Decide right now that it ends today! You decide because you are worth more than that to God!
Where you have been, I have been also. What you have tried to figure it out, I have tried to figure out also. The anxiety you are feeling, I have felt also. So, trust me when I say there is only one way you can escape that fear. Don’t be so smart and “let” God show you otherwise. You’ll never get to the other side of that fear and experience the sheer joy of deliverance until you are willing to humble yourself and do it God’s way.
Are you afraid? Turn off your electronics, log out, log off and think; take some time to think. Take back the control of your life and for goodness sakes, don’t do it alone… God loves you and so do I! Be not afraid, only believe…
January 5, 2013
Good question, right? Everyone is so busy nowadays… And, if you don’t appear too busy, they assume something is not quite right with you. Have you ever stopped to ponder why we are so busy? Busy, busy, busy; no time for anything! Is it good to be that busy? Does busy mean we are getting things done and making progress? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe this old world has taught us that all that frenetic activity means we are making moves and getting closer to our desired state. Here’s a thought? Many of us dream of being rich, right? With that lofty idea we imagine a life where we can do just whatever we want, when we want. We don’t picture ourselves running from this thing to that thing. Definitely not! We see ourselves vacationing with friends and family, relaxing on a sandy beach. Or we visualize pursuing things that really interest us that we “never had time” to do before. Hmmm.
It might just be that we are getting our leg pulled. With the advent of electronic media and our ability to know everything going on everywhere; or social media where we follow each other’s lives replete with “likes” and “comments” and status updates, we can become overwhelmed with information. As soon as we finish one house project, we start another one patterning the project after that home makeover show. We go to work all day and carry out our responsibilities, then get home to carry those out too. Saturday becomes the day to do all the stuff you couldn’t do all week. And, what you didn’t get done on Saturday you can do on Sunday. Then it is time to start all over again. You can discern our prevailing mind-set with the language we speak. “It’s time to get back on my grind,” implying that success follows a continual “grinding” until we reach some goal. Or, “everyday I’m hustling, hustling,” which carries the message that good things must be hustled after until they reluctantly come to pass. Now, I’m smart enough to know that ‘real’ life isn’t about sitting in the chair all day. Sure we need to go to work. Absolutely we should fix the leaky sink or the hole in the wall. There’s cooking, dishes, chores, cleaning and laundry that all cry for attention. Everyone has many things to do in a day. It’s not so much the work we accomplish, but our mind-set while we are doing the work. The reality is that most folks are so dang busy that they don’t have time to think. There’s no reflection concerning which direction we are heading. There’s no quiet time to consider, to pray, to invest our hearts into things we want them invested into. Instead we scramble around stressed, anxious and not even aware that all of this is going on.
Our core problem is that we have bought into a man-made doctrine that states that you must almost kill yourself to achieve things in life and if you are not overly busy, you are heading for a disaster. It’s like relaxation is some kind of curse reserved for the lazy; the failures in life. And, we wonder why folks die so early. What good is the fortune grandpa made if he died at 52? Maybe there is something behind all this mad dash for things; for status; for supposed success. Maybe, just maybe if something can keep you busy enough, you won’t take time to think (something only us humans can do). Without thought you may just spend a lifetime mindlessly fulfilling supposed obligations with only a brief respite to the mountains or to the beach. Why do we love camping so much? Is it the s’mores; the booze by the fire pit at night? Or is it the absence of all that stuff we “have” to do? You decide.
While we get to enjoy comforts formerly only dreamed of by people, we have also allowed ourselves to become too stressed out. In short, we have got it all backwards. Our minds; our thinking; our beliefs are the very essence of the things we achieve in life. It isn’t the grind of the 100 hour work week that makes you successful, it’s the beliefs you have associated with your work; with your life. A little believing and positive expectation goes a long, long way. But hey, who has time for that? Life was not designed to be a helter skelter of anxious activity that concludes in an untimely death. Life was meant to be a time for enjoyment, for relection, for learning. Life is to be lived with love and care for our fellow-man. So many people say they lack purpose but in reality they just haven’t taken the time to “see” their purpose. How could they? We want to control everything, fix everything, worry about everything… Maybe if I am hypervigilant and stressed and eternally busy, bad things won’t happen. Maybe through my obsessive effort I can ensure all will be okay for everyone involved. Maybe not.
Let God control the world people and just relax… Maybe the things you want most in life; your hopes, your dreams; maybe those things want you as well, if you will just slow down enough to see them coming. You are killing yourself digging in that hole for the gold and it’s not even there. Slow yourself down and relax. Let some stuff go. Live in the moment and enjoy it. Take time to reflect on your life. Take a quiet walk outside or a drive (brrrr.) Turn off the TV, unplug the laptop and silence the ringer on the cell phone. Make the time you need to think and think deeply. You may just hear some things that change your life.
Oh me? I’m just relaxing on this beautiful Saturday morning…
November 28, 2012
I have been thinking a lot lately about happiness and why it seems to be so dang elusive to folks. It appears that most of us are seeking after it and many of us don’t experience it nearly as often as we would like. So, one of the most important questions in our lives becomes, “why is that?” Why are there so many people in the world living unhappy lives? No-one wants unhappiness. All of us have only one life to live (yolo, yolo). And at the not so tender age of fifty-one, this life is awfully doggone short!
I believe that happiness is a natural state of mind as you would expect from a God of love who invented the idea of people. So there must be some stuff that comes up and hinders happiness, right? If you really give it some thought, happiness is the absence of things that make us unhappy. Children are happy. Their unhappiness lasts about 30 seconds and then they get right back to being happy. Maybe we should explore how children manage to stay happy in order to learn how we can do the same.
Perhaps first we should dispel an adult myth. Adults have somehow been led to believe that children are happy because they don’t have responsibility. But, whoever proved that responsibility makes us unhappy? No-one-ever! Our responsibilities don’t take away happiness, our attitude towards our responsibilities take away happiness. Worry and fear bring happy feelings to an abrupt end. Have you ever been feeling good about yourself and good about life, then encounter some fearful thought that causes you to start stressing? Your happy, happy is replaced by some negative potentiality that probably won’t happen, but it doesn’t matter because the damage is already done…unhappy. Children don’t roll that way. If they feel afraid they tell you about it immediately; expect you to fix it and get right back to being happy trusting you got it covered. Hmmm? Maybe that’s how we are supposed to function. So you ask, who am I supposed to tell? Well, His name is God and He owns the rights to the human prototype! Fear doesn’t come from God and left unchecked it will eat away at your life and subsequent happiness like a cancer. You really need God in order to be truly happy. Once you get to know Him a little, you can then tell Him immediately when something scares you; expect Him to fix it (or protect you) and get back to being happy trusting that He’s got you covered! You can’t say that it is hard to do because five year-olds do it all the time…
Another lesson we can learn from children is that they live 100% in the moment. Tomorrow is tomorrow and yesterday (or lasterday as my grandson says) is meaningless. Most of us (I’m sad to say myself included) spend way too much time rehashing our negative past (the past being just now, wait just now, wait just now…) and worrying over the future. We have trouble enjoying ourselves today because we aren’t yet living in the day. We are distracted. We can’t even have a conversation without letting our minds drift off to something that we need to do later on. Kids barely keep track of what time it is. You have to pry them away from their fun to even get them to eat something. They forget how mad you were at them yesterday because they don’t keep track of yesterday. And if they do happen to do something bad, you know what they do? They carry it around with them for 6 months? Haha you know better than that! They seek out your forgiveness as quickly as possible so they can get right back to being happy. Hmmm… How about you? What are you carrying around with you? Let it go. Tell God you are sorry (ummm my bad, Pops!) and get back to being happy. Otherwise that weight will suck the happiness right out of you for a lifetime.
Maybe one last thing, huh? Children pursue happiness. They are looking for it. If they like something you know it and if they don’t like something, you know it. If you put some food in Tristan’s mouth (my almost two-year old grandson) and he doesn’t like it, it comes right back out. He doesn’t hide his tastes or aversions (RWE). Kids don’t participate in things they don’t like to do and soon bore from the same old things. Hmmm… How many things do we do over and over and over that we don’t like to do? I don’t mean work necessarily, I mean work that we hate. How long do we dutifully remain in bad scenarios that bring us pain not pleasure? How often do we pretend to like things we don’t like? And how many of us are bored with our lives, yet continue to do the same old things over an over? Change jobs; change houses; change your routine; change how you think. You can do it. You have to do it! Happiness knows no age boundaries…
So, you’re not so happy, my friend? Why not take a lesson from the young people? Oh sure they are going to have to learn some lessons like you did, but somehow you made it right? People often accuse me of not acting my age. I take that as a compliment! Happiness is not a result of naivety, it’s a result of learning to think properly. Handle your responsibilities but do it with the mind of a young person. After all, our bodies might get old, but our minds don’t, that is of course, unless we allow them to! Get rid of fear (all of it) with God’s help. Live in the moment. And for goodness sakes, do the things you like to do and avoid the things you hate! You will find that, that elusive happiness you have been pursuing is actually pursuing you!
Life is short; be happy!
October 30, 2012
I was thinking, the other day, about my family and how well we all get along together. I mean we genuinely enjoy each others company! I wondered, “What is it that makes our family sing?” How did we get four children that not only hang out together but even live in the same apartments, with one married son near by? It seems that many of the families I’ve witnessed work hard to get away from each other. The siblings don’t ‘sib.’ Family gatherings are a tortuous affair to be avoided or at least softened with a shot or two of tequilla. And it’s usually not long after the alcohol starts flowing that this one is mad at that one and that one is still mad at this one for some event that happened in 1982. Really? Is that what families are all about? Should the people who are the closest to one another reserve their good behavior for strangers and conclude that it’s okay to say whatever to whomever because they are family? Again, really?
So what is it that we do that others maybe don’t do and do we in fact have a secret that might benefit someone else? When we are together our words aren’t always the most kind. We definitely aren’t the Duggars! We argue; we fight; we disagree passionately at times. We have strong opinions about everything. We gang up together on certain issues and our heated discussions have been known to last three hours or longer. We might cry; we always laugh and our volume is often off the chart. Yet, we get together again and again and again. Why is that?
Well, I think there are a couple of reasons actually. The first one and arguably the most important one is that we just plain old love each other. I suppose every family loves each other, but we carry that love in our hearts no matter what is going on. Maybe that’s the spirit of God in each of us. We don’t decide to love each other because the other person is behaving nicely and is deserving of our love. We love each other unconditionally and that’s a whole different kind of love. Unconditional love has no conditions in it. Conditional love is chock full of rules. Conditional love demands behaviors and withdraws its love if those behaviors are absent. Conditional love has no tolerance for bad behavior. You either behave in the way that I think is right or I don’t love you anymore; at least in my actions. Crazy huh? Conditional love chooses not to forgive or at least not until sufficient penance has been paid to deserve it. In short, conditional love sucks! Family behavior is just too diverse and varied to hold up under the strains of endless conditions and expectations. Sure we need some rules to function together, but we need unconditional love more than any rule. Interestingly, unconditional love doesn’t require rules at all because love always has the other person at heart.
The next reason perhaps goes hand in hand with that unconditional love. We don’t judge each other. We just don’t! Judgment chaps our collective hides! Whether it’s my son defending his friend or my daughter speaking up for her brother, we defer our judgments with a clear understanding of our own lives and foibles. Maybe each of us has participated in enough absurdity that we totally ‘get’ absurdity from other people! In any case, we choose not to judge each other. We play together and we sometimes “go hard in the paint” as my kids would say, but the end result is always precious, good times together with lasting memories for the future. We have enough trust among one another to be able to communicate how we really feel and there’s no reason to agree with something we don’t think is right. And, the reason we feel safe is because we already love each other no matter what!
Please don’t think I’m saying my family is better than yours (I don’t judge, remember?). I’m just acknowledging that we happen to be doing something right. It’s pretty clear that unconditional love is something God had in mind when He came up with the idea of family! So, why not decide to love in that way? Why not carry that unconditional love over to your friends and everyone with whom you come into contact with? You will instantly become a very popular person because all of us need that kind of love.
Personally, I’m grateful for my family. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to live my life with. And, I can only imagine how many other people will eventually benefit from their love after I’m long gone. That’s a legacy worth living for!
Love you long time Washingtons…a long, long time!
August 20, 2012
It never ceases to amaze me (and other well-worn clichés) how many folks there are that believe in God, but don’t believe in God! The idea that some folks (God bless ‘em) go their whole lives confessing their belief in God yet never receiving a blessed thing from Him seems a little crazy to me. The idea thing behind this believing thing is that some-thing actually happens. If God can’t do anything for me beyond what I can do for myself, He would kinda “suck” in the God-business wouldn’t He? (LOL Just makin’ a point Lord) Just follow me and ignore my apparent irreverence for a little bit. The truth behind believing in God and subsequently believing God is that “stuff happens.” (You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker!) If God says He will do such and such, my job is to wrap my around what He said and actually see it come to pass. If I have a need and my need isn’t met or my prayers “seemingly” aren’t answered, then there must be something wrong somewhere. I don’t know if you have read much about God, but He seems to be pretty good at His job. I mean raising the dead? That’s pretty spectacular isn’t it? How about healing a man who was born blind? Pretty sure that’s better than Lasek! Sometimes folks seem to stagger (myself included at times) at “how” exactly God is going to get the job done. Or maybe we just don’t understand fully. You might even say, “Well, I don’t know He could do it!” So, here’s a thought… We also don’t know how babies grow in the womb. Oh we know they grow, but how is still a mystery. What about plants? We get a seed; cover it with some dirt; add some water and it grows. How? LOL Who knows, but it does. Refusing to believe something God says He can and will do is like refusing to plant watermelon seeds because we can’t see or feel or smell or taste any life in them! Drop the little seeds in the dirt and watch what happens! Believing God is just that simple. Quit being so smart and let Someone smarter go to work for you.
If God makes a promise that He will do something “if” we believe, our job is to believe. Hoping so doesn’t get the job done. Wishing doesn’t get the job done. As my Dad used to say, “Wish in one hand and sh** in the other and see which one gets filled up first!” (Hey, that’s my Dad okay?) Wise Pops, very wise! Yet, we seem to think things work that way, don’t we? We shoot some words up in God’s direction, wait a day or so, then conclude nothing happened and promptly give up. The truth is we didn’t believe in the first place! Believing is a state of full mental persuasion. But guess what folks, you have to persuade yourself. All of us on Earth have been conditioned to believe facts, not truth. Here’s a handy little fact test. According to the medical community, is it possible to bring dead people back to life? (Now don’t hedge, just answer!) According to the best physicians can you fix the vision of a man born blind? Wait, wasn’t there a guy once in a movie? No, he went blind. How about instantly repairing a man lame from his mother’s womb? Withered hand? You see what I’m saying? The great battle that takes place in your mind is overcoming the “apparent” facts so you can believe (like a little child) what God said! Quit being so smart! The “IF” factor in believing is “IF” you can get your mind to believe despite the gnarly facts!
There was a man in the Bible whose son was possessed with devil spirits that were busy about trying to kill his son. (Now if you just shrugged and chuckled a little at that, you are unaware of something you need to be very aware of!) Ignorance is never bliss! Anyway, he came to the disciples for deliverance for his son. The disciples had already experienced many signs, miracles and wonders. Oh, they knew how this believing thing worked. Yet, for some reason they could not cast the spirit out! There was a big crowd gathering so it must have been sort of embarrassing. So Jesus shows up and the father said I asked your disciples to cast the spirit out and they could not. (More embarrassment) So, curiously, Jesus asked how long this was going on. The father replied, since he was a child. Hmmm… Jesus asked that question because when children are young, it is the parents job to do the believing for them. Yes, that’s right, the parents job. So, the father said, “IF, you can do anything have compassion on us and help us!” Sounds fair enough, doesn’t it? How many times have people said things like that to me? “Okay man if this believing thing really works, pray for my healing.” Nothing happens…”see it doesn’t work!” ;-/ So then Jesus, unlike me and the disciples wasn’t caught in the trap. He challenged the man by saying, “IF, you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes!” Jesus took that humongous “IF” that the Father gave first to the disciples and next to him and gave it back to the father where it belonged! You will never, ever get a single prayer answered until you take responsibility for that big “IF” and believe! Is it easy? Rarely! There will always be a large body of evidence to convince you of something far less than what God has promised. Always! So, you take charge of that beautiful mind that God gave you and persuade it to believe what God promised with no reservations; none! Then you too can proudly display the “stuff happens” bumper sticker!
So, when you find yourself in one of life’s OMG jams, don’t panic, don’t turn to booze; don’t get mad at God for somehow letting it happen. Instead start working with your mind in that very moment to get what you got coming to you from God. It’s not just how life is when you are getting yanked around from pillar to post! It’s not normal or natural to suffer, get defeated and be kicked around! Normal is for God to answer your prayers; heal you; fix your situation; solve your dramas! Get out of your own way and allow God to lovingly show you how He got the job title! If you are willing to really commit to it and stop wishing your life away, God will literally blow your mind! Then, you will be the one writing the blogs! Haha
So, like Jesus said, be not afraid, only believe! Oh and don’t forget your bumper sticker!
August 11, 2012
Probably not what you were thinking, but maybe… I haven’t been able to weed the flower beds for about 3 weeks now and I found them completely overrun with weeds. I don’t mean a “pull some dandelions business,” I mean more weeds per square inch than flowers. Morning Glory, which aint so glorious are surrounding every flower, every bush, every plant, every…after just 3 weeks. And, pulling them up not only takes forever, but with the weeds come up about one third of the flowers. You can’t see them early on because they’re sneaky…real sneaky! They start low, below eye level and quietly wrap themselves around the flowers. They blend in perfectly. Then when they have the flower completely enveloped they broadcast their presence proudly, almost as if to say, what? What? They have the audacity to bloom flowers on my flowers. And, I can only tell they are even there because of their brazen appearance as in pretty little white flowers showing up on top of their disgusting little weed bodies!
So, I’m depressed…weed brains, what does that even mean? What it means is that our brains or more accurately our minds are like gardens (ala’ James Allen). Crazy huh? Our minds are like gardens that must be tended to, day after day. Now that might sound odd, but most folks just let their minds go. They think thoughts are things that just happen and that there’s not really much anyone can do about it. You think a thought…you think another! It never seems to occur to folks that although you may have just had a negative thought, you don’t just move on. Moving on is like looking out the window and seeing the flower beds and the weeds, and deciding to let it go. What can it hurt? What is the worst that can happen? Until one day you find yourself depressed about life. Nothing seems to matter; nothing has any meaning, nothing… What happened? Chemical changes in the brain, yes sure. But what really happened? What happened was those 385,000 thoughts you let go gathered together and choked the life out of your good thoughts. Oh you didn’t see it happen because it was sneaky, real sneaky. You know what I mean, right? Those pesky little missiles that tell you, “You aint going to achieve much man! Let’s face it, look at ya!” “Working your tired little job; still broke; still wishing something would change!” Or the popular, “You call yourself a Christian!” (as if being a Christian somehow meant you transcended being human and moved into an error free realm!) Good luck with that one… Or, “You messed up again man, because you always mess up, dum dum!” You see, you might not have being paying attention enough to decide not to think that garbage, but you sure as hell (that’s right I swear), need to pay attention enough to not let that stuff go! By the time you recognize it, those little white Morning Glory flowers are all over you, taunting you! They already got you!
Now just to amuse you for a minute, weed (yeah Mary Jane – ols skool term) relaxes your mind right? Hahaha… Relaxes your mind all the way to the point that you are no longer paying attention. You’re high! So high you just accept whatever! LOL Say it aint so… Anyway, I digress. (Methinks you got it)
So, when you find yourself all messed up; unhappy, miserable, listless, pointless, energy-less, what should you do? All the medication in the world won’t solve a problem that started in your thought life. Yes, it can help get your chemicals back in balance, but what got them out of balance to begin with? You did. Can you imagine digging out a flower bed, putting a few flowers in it and then letting it go for 6 months? Do you really think you would have a beautiful flower bed? No man, you know better than that! So you walk your butt over to the flower bed and you start pulling. One weed at a time; weed by weed, until the flower bed was clear. Then, once you got it cleared up you would need to plant some good stuff in there, something you actually wanted. Then, you would have to pay attention to it every day, thoughtfully challenging and digging up every intruder that wasn’t welcome there. Oh it won’t be easy. It will take some work, but what would be the value in terms of your life? I think your life is worth the effort. Don’t believe the hype folks, there’s nothing free about letting your thoughts run free. Life like weeds has a way of filling up unoccupied space with things you don’t want. (Ever watch a reality show?) LOL
The good news is that you can regain control. You can get your mind back. It doesn’t seem like it at the time, but you can if you want to! But remember, you didn’t get all entangled and choked up overnight, so you aint gonna get it all cleaned up overnight. The only time you’ve really got to work with is the time called, “right now.” Yesterday, last month, last year; the last twenty years mean absolutely nothing. You can’t even go back in time to when you first started reading this post (haha), but you can do something about right now! Morning Glories aint got sh** on you! (Said in a Denzel Washington voice)
Stop pouting! Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You know what you know when you know it and not one moment sooner! There’s an enormous, colossal, beautiful, spacious, exciting life that is waiting for you to do your part. God knows your dilemma and soooooooooo wants to help you, but you gotta do your part! So do your part and see what happens!
Although I felt overwhelmed today I got the job done! I cranked up the lawn mower and went kamikaze on those weeds! Quit stewing and brewing and crank up your lawnmower! You can do it because you were designed to do it! You got what it takes, my friends.
Now, that’s worth thinking about…
July 29, 2012
Boy, once you start getting honest with yourself, there’s just no end to it. LOL It seems that there are a whole bunch of people that live life with unmet needs and just like in the other categories of life, folks just aren’t being honest with themselves. I’ve heard people reduce need down to the most basic aspects of life. In other words, all you need is food, water and shelter. People in prison have food, water and shelter! So it must be more than that, right? Then there’s also other people that want to define your need for you. Interestingly, what you need is always a little less than what they have… And, I don’t even want to get into that whole religious mind-set that convinces you everything is greed! Note to self ~ when you have the thought that you are being greedy, you probably aren’t! Greedy people never give greed a second thought. God never said money was evil, by the way. It’s the LOVE of money that is the root system of all evil. Someone on Facebook said recently, “money is evil, so you should always make sure you don’t have too much of it!” LOL really? Here’s a NEWSFLASH people, money is our means of exchange nowadays! Things you need cost money and if you don’t have enough you live with unmet needs. I really believe that God wants us to have an abundance in every category of life, including money. Now hear me out before you accuse me of being Creflo Dollar! Haha Why is it that Christian folk always want to sputter when the discussion of money comes up? And conversely, why do Christian folk go with unmet needs being a child of the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills? If God really is a God of abundance and promises us abundance, why do we work so hard to limit that definition? You see, you can’t really believe God for the abundance He promised until you get that “God wants me poor (suffering, downtrodden, humble)” logic out of your head! Quit the double-talk where you justify not having enough of what you need by saying stuff like, “Well, at least I woke up today!” LOL second NEWSFLASH ~ waking up is normal, not waking up is unusual! Add to that statements like, “Well, abundance isn’t always material things!” Not it’s obviously not always material things, but that’s not a sufficient justification for not having your needs met. See, just not being honest with yourself….
This isn’t a criticism for not having your needs met, however! I too am human and I too have unmet needs! What I’m gettin’ at is, number one, being honest about what your needs are and, two, getting serious about getting those needs met! Look, I’m a parent and if my kids really need something and I have the resources, I buy it! I’ve paid $125 bucks because someone “needed” some Jordans! LOL I didn’t even bother to spend the time and energy to convince them that all they really “needed” was the Chucks (cool slang term for canvas Converse)! So, if I have that kind of love and generosity (yes, generosity because Jordans aren’t in the parent guide), then what about God who has unlimited resources? You’ve got to cleanse your brain of that beggar logic, folks! Here’s a supposition: If God is all-powerful and unlimited in His ability, and if God is my Father and I am His son, and if God loves and cares for His children at least as well as earthly parents do (sarcasm applied on purpose) ~ then what can’t I ask Him for (ask in the sense of believing)? If we are going to apply logic to God (what a thought!) (and, even the word for “The Word” is logos ~ logic) then we need to be honest and carry it all the way through! For example, if I need a car, and believing equals receiving, and I’m responsible for what I believe for, why on earth would I believe to get some old clunker that barely runs and is broken every other day? Because that’s all I can afford? Unmet need appears! Do you get it? Does God want me to drive the clunker that I cannot rely on? Is there a limit to what He can do? Maybe a car won’t appear by the mailbox (“The Secret” slam number 87!) but maybe, just maybe God could work in me to get the money I need to buy the car! The $500 dollar clunker? Noooooooooooooooooo! The one I really need! Say what you want; call me covetous and greedy, but the honest truth is that what “I” need is what “I” need and I am the only one that defines that! Don’t make the mistake of allowing other folks to define that for you!
Being honest with yourself and getting your needs met means that you identify what you need in life and then going out believing that you can and will get it! God is on your side on this one folks! Having your needs unmet is not a normal part of life. You owe it to yourself and the One that promised to supply all of your need, to believe to get your needs met and you have the glorious privilege to decide what those needs are! Old “Job” in the Bible had a lot of stuff as a testimony to what God will do for a man or woman when they believe Him without reservations:
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. Job 1:1-3
Damn Job was greedy, right? LOL I think not! Did old Job really “need” 7000 sheep? Haha probably not, but I bet he had enough resources to not only take care of his life, but to help many other people as well! You see, God wants you to have in abundance so that you can give, not of out of your need, but out of your abundance! It’s not noble to help other people and starve in the process. Have to give!! (Emphasis on that you first have!)
So now is the time to wake up out of that lethargic, limited mind-set and go out and be a winner! Achieve, succeed, be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem! JZ said, “I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them!” Life isn’t about the “haves” and the have-nots!” Life is about learning who God really is and how He really wants you to live! Abundance in everything!
Be the head and not the tail!!!
Just some good thoughts…
July 22, 2012
I often hear people blame their difficulties on their parents and how they were treated when they grew up. You know the story, right? My daddy didn’t love me! My parents didn’t give me the love or encouragement I needed, therefore the troubles I’m going through today aren’t really my fault, right? Daddy didn’t treat me right, mommy didn’t treat me right, and I was so young and impressionable! Well, my wife and I were on this topic today (and a blog was born!). How many folks in the world do you suppose really grew up in a totally loving, encouraging, God-inspired environment? Really, how many? Less than 5%, 2%? I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of people grew up with parents that were less than perfect as becomes obvious when you have the privilege (or responsibility) to be a parent yourself. I believe parents often say and do things that hurt their kids because they aren’t thinking about their kids, they are thinking about themselves. Welcome to the human experience!
So, what does that have to do with the mental malady called, “I don’t measure up?” Well, quite a bit actually. Living in the world, we are all subject to messages; messages that are always trying to convince us of one big thing. That ‘thing’ is that we are not good enough. Not good enough to have good things happen in our lives; not good enough for God’s love and protection; not good enough to be and do the things we dream of being and doing. If I was the adversary, that great opponent of mankind, and I knew that people’s lives were lived in direct proportion to what they believed (expected) in their hearts, then it would make perfect sense for me to focus my energy on getting those same people to focus on themselves and what was wrong with themselves. Convince them to spend their days and nights rehearsing and cataloging all the things that weren’t so good about them and how they failed to measure up! Then, as the ultimate dagger, convince them that they are not good enough for God’s love and blessing in their lives. And, as a consequence to that, watch their believing diminish to beggar levels. And while they are experiencing a good case of the ‘not worthys’ they are sitting ducks for similar insane doctrines like, “God wants you to be poor to keep you humble” and, “money is evil and it’s better not to have any or at least not have much!” Hmmm…
So, we are left with the question, are we good enough? Do we deserve the best things in life? The answer surprisingly is not so simple. The answer is yes and no. (Cumon man I was looking for solutions!) God, who dreamed up the idea of people, knows that the basic cry of the heart of man is to be righteous before God; to be worthy of His love and goodness. It’s in man’s heart. Even the person who denies the existence of God still has to ‘make himself’ right in order to feel worthy or deserving of good things. You can hear it in the things people say. “I try to live a good life!” “I give to the poor!” “I always try to give back!” Feeling worthy of good things has a huge impact on what people believe they can achieve and receive. Yet the problem is how can we become worthy? After all, if we are besieged daily with the message that we are not worthy or that we don’t measure up, how can we become worthy? What can we do to measure up? Here’s the yes and no part. No you cannot measure up to become worthy on your own. You cannot! Do you hear me? Cannot! You cannot make yourself good enough. Oh you can make yourself feel better or you can make yourself feel righteous by doing righteous acts, but in that pursuit you are going to find out the hard way that, that course has no end-point. Today’s righteousness won’t be good enough for tomorrow’s righteous requirements and so on and so on… This is the hamster wheel called religion. Give up this; say no to that; more discipline; more sweat; more sacrifice; soon God (or substitute Dad/Mom) will love me, right? It’s a lost cause folks. God, being all-knowing, knew that man in his fallen state could never live up to what it would take to make himself righteous before Him, so he did something spectacular. He made man worthy by something that He (God) did and not by what man did/does. He gave His perfect son, the worthy (and only guy that ever lived up to it) for the unworthy. He did it and He did it by His grace. So, yes…He made us deserving; He made us worthy! That’s why He is God! He is cool like that!
So, what is our response? Stop trying to measure up! Stop trying to earn anyone’s love! Love cannot be earned. Take the time to learn who God made you to be and walk out on what He said. Come on man, you’ve already spent a hundred years listening to the wrong source (even if it came via Daddy). You have already accepted that foul message that said you didn’t deserve to have or be anything in life. Don’t fight that fire with more fire, pour a little truth on it and watch the flames flicker out. You show me an unsuccessful person (side-note: money aint the only measure of success) and I will show you a person who doesn’t see any value in themselves. You see, none of us have much value in just ourselves. Our value comes from God. If God says you are righteous and holy, then by God you are righteous and you are holy, if the world never agrees with you!
Don’t allow yourself to be a victim of the “measure-up” malady for another second. Take a look at the folks you see enjoying success and ask yourself, how righteous of their own works are they? Haha All of us are about one misstep away from behaving badly, so don’t be so hard on yourself. In fact, get your mind off yourself and on to what God has done for you in Christ Jesus. Shift your focus away from the impossible (becoming worthy/deserving) to the possible (God has made me worthy/deserving)!
And finally, don’t be sad because Daddy didn’t say he loved you; God is the best Daddy ever and He is telling you He loves you right now!
You are worth it…
Just some good thoughts…