May 19, 2013
If you live long enough you are going to, at one time or another, experience some negative event that has the capacity to shake your foundation and cause you to question your beliefs. You know what I’m talking about, right? There you were living your life, building your dreams, planning your future, then some dastardly scenario played out and stopped you in your tracks. Suddenly you left behind all of your innocency; your child-like believing and questioned whether or not God really existed. After all, how could God have allowed that thing to happen to you? Why didn’t God step in and intervene in your life? And, after some period of suffering you drew a perilous conclusion, namely that God must not exist and if He did exist, He surely must not be as good or as faithful as He reported… And now, well, you are still pretty angry with God for some thing He didn’t do; didn’t prevent; didn’t handle when it needed to be handled.
Sadly, there is a reality in life that most folks are loathe to contemplate. The reality is that there are evil forces at work in the world and those forces are behind every negative thing that ever happened to you or to someone that you love. Now that doesn’t mean that you are evil; had it coming or were punished for being a sinner. What it means is that evil makes no allowances for anyone and if it can get involved to bring about disaster, it will. Have you ever noticed how many people are tragically killed or kill themselves at Christmas or some other treasured family time? Evil seeks to multiply its effects and bring hurt to not just one, but many people at once. Evil has been functioning in the world almost since the world began and in order to be successful relies not on what you do know, but on what you don’t know. Like the great line in the movie, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist!”
So you have to ask yourself, what do you really know about God? I don’t mean what your church says, or grandma says or what your friends say. What do you know for sure? For example, did you know that in order for God to get involved in your personal life that He requires belief on your part? Did you know that God will never overstep anyone’s freedom of will in any situation, ever? Did you know that God is love and light and in Him is no darkness at all? Did you know that God not only saw that “big negative event” coming, but also had a solution for it if you (or whoever was involved) would have believed that He did and acted on it. Believing isn’t some casual thing we throw around when events are going well, yet abandon when we are confronted with a disaster! Believing comes from having a clear understanding of Who God is; what He can and will do; and what His good desires are for our lives, as well as understanding what evil is doing to try and stop those good things from coming to pass. Belief in God is not some casual thing that takes place in the back of our minds and the back of our lives. Belief is an active thing that we carry into every situation. Belief is in the front of our minds, consistently present, here right now to see us through the obstacles and trials of life. No evil force can begin to stand against God’s power, but in order to see God’s powerful solutions we must convince our minds of His goodness and not allow the negatives of the world to talk us out of it.
You see, what really happened to you when “that thing” occurred was that evil plotted and planned and schemed and proceeded to punch the living crap out of you with the intent that you would abandon your beliefs and opt for some other philosophy that promised you well-being and peace and love, yet would be void of any real power when you needed it most. Evil is no joke folks. People, in some cases, spend the entire rest of their lives suffering the pain of that one thing and never recover. Pretty treacherous, wouldn’t you say? Hit someone with a hay-maker they never saw coming, then get them to abandon their beliefs that could serve to protect them from getting hit by evil again.
My friends, don’t let that describe you. Don’t let that negative, painful scenario dictate anymore of the moves you make in your life. Accept the truth that you, like all of the rest of us, got deceived and set up and maybe lacked the believing necessary to receive God’s miraculous solution in the situation. That’s not God’s fault, it’s our fault because what we didn’t know did hurt us, but it doesn’t have to keep hurting us! We need to get to the place where we can say what Job said as he recovered from his own disaster:
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. ~ Job 42:5
You can live out the rest of your days with joyful expectation of deliverance from any dreadful scenario that ever held you back. “God is always the victor over evil, but it is up to you to make His will, your will.” It’s time to draw a new conclusion folks, that God is only good, always and that He is never going to change! That’s something you can bank on for a lifetime; the rest of your lifetime…
Just some good thoughts…
May 1, 2013
Forgive me for overworking the YOLO cliché, but I’ve got something to say that I know will help you live a little better. If you think about how many times people use that cliché and it’s context, you’ll find something very interesting. Almost every time we say it, we are making some reference to getting rid of our fear of doing something with a complimentary urge to “do it” right now. We are saying that life is too short to not do the things you really want to do. So, as you can imagine, that got me thinking…
How much time do you spend doing things you really don’t want to do? Or, how many things do you do because you think they are what others expect you to do? Or, stated in the positive, do you spend most of your time doing the things you enjoy doing; have passion about and want to do? And of course closely related to those questions, why are you doing the things you are doing?
As I’ve said a hundred times prior, this ol’ world funnels us into well-worn grooves of expectations! The subtle and not so subtle message is to get in line; shut your mouth and don’t buck the system. Do acceptable work; make acceptable comments; have acceptable opinions (not your own opinions, but the popular ones) and for goodness sakes, don’t start questioning things. If a thing doesn’t make sense to you, it’s not because it doesn’t make sense, but rather because you don’t understand it – so again, close your mouth and get in agreement (now!). The problem with that “go-along to get-along” mindset is that you no longer get to be “you” in the process. Now on the surface, you may not think this applies to you, so I ask you, give it a little more thought.
People are employed in a line of work they hate, for decades. Folks are suppressed in unhealthy relationships or subjecting themselves to unhealthy family members for a lifetime. We laugh when it’s not funny. We say the food tastes good when it doesn’t. We nod in agreement to insane political ideas when those views couldn’t be further from our own. We don’t play the music we like when others are around. We get college degrees in subjects we cannot stand. We tip waiters for poor service. We devote time to reading books we don’t enjoy. We trudge ourselves to tired church services and participate in nonsensical observances and even pray to a God we are grossly unfamiliar with! Why? Because we are afraid, that’s why! Fear, often confused with terror, is a subtle beast. We can all recognize the fright we feel when we see a tiger, but do we acknowledge the slipperier version that causes us to do all of the above? Why would a man work in a job he loathed for twenty years? He’s afraid that he can’t do anything else? He’s afraid what his family would say if he quit? He’s afraid what society might say if he stepped out of line! Why do folks put up with family members that are toxic and discourage their growth? Because they are afraid what everyone would think if they stopped coming around. Fear. (disclaimer – this does not refer to my family- ) We agree, we cajole, we acquiesce, we agree because we’re so friendly? Probably not when you get right down to it. Fear drives a multitude of things we feel obligated to do. Then there is obligation’s close companion – guilt. Guilt is just another form of fear manifesting itself as something you need to do because of something you didn’t do; should have done; or to avoid something because of what you did do (or perceive you might have done)! Fear…
I’m certainly not advocating morphing into a self-centered douche, parading around town looking out for number one only! I’m suggesting rather that you take the time to consider why you do the things you do. There really are only two great motives in life – love and fear. Love works no ill to its neighbor (or to you either for that matter) Fear starts bad, proceeds bad, and ends bad. Working out of fear leads to misery. Working out of love fans the flames of passion. Saying how you feel out of love leads to understanding and agreement and resolution. Saying how you feel out of fear leads to arguments and conflict. Doing things for other people out of love is the very heart of service. Doing things for people out of fear leads to slavery and bondage and all kinds of mistreatment.
So the simple acid test is to ask yourself why you are doing the thing that you are doing. Do you want to do it? If you had a million bucks would you do it? I’m sure we all have the fantasy of all the wonderful things we would do if we just became rich enough to do it. And the reason we cannot do it now? Fear… And while you are asking yourself these things in the solemn privacy of your mind, take solace in the truth that you can change anything you want to change. Sure folks will deride you and chastise you and demand you get back to being who you are supposed to be! But what you owe yourself is to be the “you” you really want to be! Don’t you think? People live frustrated, defeated, unsatisfied lives because they spend their precious lives living as someone else. Don’t let that be you, my friend.
Cliche’ alert – At the end of the day, we all have only one life to live and we all only live once (on earth anyway). Start today by asking yourself why and then get busy modifying and changing what needs to change. You oughta be able to be “you,” doing “you” in the ways that make “you” the most happy! YOLO my friends, YOLO!
Just some good thoughts…
April 14, 2013
How many books have been written that purport to tell you how you can use the “power of your mind” to get something that you need? It’s an alluring concept for sure, but one that simply isn’t true. There is no power of the mind other than the power to choose what you will. I know, I know, this idea runs cross purposes with many famous works such as, “Awakening The Giant Within,” but suspend your disagreement for a little bit and allow me to explain what I mean.
There’s a verse in the Bible that states, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. (Read that sentence again!) There’s another one that states, guard your heart with all that you are because out of your heart flows the issues of your life. Those words have been there for years, but what do they even really mean? Well, those things we believe in the depths of our heart to be true, shape and form our existence today. And, by the power of choosing what we will think about, we can guard the heart of our minds; the place where our believing expectation comes from. Believing expectation forms the essence of our lives. What we believe to be true will come true if we really believe it. In fact, your life at this very moment is a direct reflection of those thoughts and beliefs you hold about yourself most dearly. It is 100% accurate in every way. Remember it is not what you wish you were or would like to be, but what you truly are at this moment in time. It is a system that never errs in any way. God wouldn’t have told us to guard our hearts with all that we are if what we believe in our hearts did not have a dramatic impact on the life we are living. So, if you think about, believing is not the power of your mind, but rather your connection to All-Power. However, I must add a caution, believing works with tremendous accuracy for positive and negative thinking alike. What you fear is also believing; believing that connects you to a different power; one that brings about frustration and defeat. Negative believing (fear) leads assuredly to negative results also with 100% accuracy.
So, how can you learn to believe for good? Well, in actuality you are believing something all of the time. However, most people become so frustrated with life because they believe in accordance with what they think they see and not in accordance with what they want. For example, the media, your neighbors, your family, financial analysts tell you it is a “bad economy!” And, it is difficult to get a job in a bad economy. So, unknowingly, you believe what they said and thus have a hard time getting a job. After all, it’s a bad economy. You are believing something that is not necessarily true and limiting yourself in the process. That belief is not true because what you truly believe to receive, you will receive 100% of the time, in every case. Imagine, there are many people who are not only NOT suffering in the “bad economy” but are actually prospering. Why? They have chosen to believe otherwise. Can you see it? You cannot allow present circumstances or conditions to affect what you believe or else you give your power (your ability to choose) over to something else. And, you will never, ever be able to change your present circumstances as long as you keep doing that. So, ummm stop it!
So, when is the right time to believe? The right time, is right now! Well, when do you want to get the “things” that you want? Right now or five years from now? The reason so many things seem to take so long to come to pass is because we are not believing for them to happen right now. Logically if you imagine your life being full of abundance and peace and love at some future date, it is not going to happen right now. (Read that again!) Ask yourself, why does so much time need to go by before I get what I really want? Good things take a lot of time to happen? Says who? Says you! And thus it is true for you! If you can wrap your mind around that concept, things can transform in your life, in a hurry. In order to get what you want in life, you have to see it happening in your mind, right now. Thus believing (true believing, not wishing) is seeing the result you want in your mind first before it happens in your reality. Wishing, on the other hand, is always in the future and you cannot live in the future, so it is a futile effort. And if we are honest, we don’t really believe the things we wish would happen are going to happen, that’s why we continue to “wish” they would!
Believing is therefore seeing your intended result in your mind’s eye first and then holding that image there despite what the whole world tells you to the contrary! Believing for good things in your life is not going to come without opposition. In fact, the larger your believing for good things, the more contrary “facts” will show up to talk you out of what you believe. God forbid you ever learn how much control you really do have over your life, if you only knew it (he says sarcastically)! Your job and my job therefore, is to not allow the world, the circumstances, the conditions, our limited and finite thinking, to talk us out of the things we really want.
Believing is almost magical. By believing you can be healed of ANY disease. By believing you can receive tremendous financial abundance. By believing you can find the answer to every question and repair anything that was ever broken. By believing you can transform your life from mundane to dynamic; from so-so to oh-so; from ordinary to extraordinary!
Get what you want out of your life now, folks. Don’t spend any time trying to awaken the giant within you, instead believe wholeheartedly to tap into the greatest power in the universe, God’s power for good! God is for it! I am for it! Now it’s time for you to be for it! Get it and get it now!
April 7, 2013
Think back to the last time you were on vacation. Whether it was lounging on a sandy beach or taking in the gorgeous views during a mountain hike or languishing in your hotel room in a beautiful city or the smell of bacon frying in the morning while camping by the side of the lake; what makes your vacation time so much better than the rest of your time? You may argue that it is so sublime because you don’t have to go to work. But many folks exert as much energy playing as they do at work and sometimes more energy. You may conclude that it is the change of environment; the sand, the trail, the room, the water etc. Certainly there are many factors involved with vacations that cause us to feel joyful, but there is one common theme that is the subject of today’s blog. On a vacation intended for relaxation we shift our focus from the past and the future to the wonderful present. We purposefully don’t think about the bills that “will” be due or the work we need to finish later or what the boss said to us in anger last week. No, we make some loose plans and then get busying enjoying the wonder and beauty that is today. It is as if we free ourselves from all the illusory burdens of time and focus ourselves on “right now!” And since right now is all we can experience, we decide to thoroughly enjoy it.
There is a way to live your life that escapes the thinking of the masses. There’s a way to make the most of your experiences. There is a simplicity to life that is so simple we have missed it all our lives. The culture of our world is ever seeking ways for us to move faster, get more done, accomplish more and maximize our time. We laud multi-tasking and efficiency and “to get err done…” Just do it and do it and do it again is the mindset of today. And for all of our inventions and efficiencies and time savers, where has it gotten us? Are we happier? Are we joyful? Do we feel blessed and content? I would say no. Yet it’s not the speed at which we move that bogs us down. It’s where we have learned to put the focus of our minds. Humans are designed to live in one time period and one time period only – right now! The only time we have available to us is this present moment. Yet how much time do we spend focused on the present moment? While we are at work today we focus on getting home. During the week we focus on the upcoming weekend. During the work year we focus on the coming vacation. While we are at school we are thinking about being done with school. While cleaning the house we are thinking about how great it will be to sit down and relax after the house is clean. But the real joy of living is found in 100% commitment to the present moment. It is persisting in a state of experiencing and enjoying right now. If the duties of right now call for some house cleaning, so be it. If it’s time to go to work, go to work and be 100% involved in your work while you are there. Don’t spend one idle moment wishing you were off work as that shift of focus will make your work a misery. What is the best way to experience school? Don’t mentally leave the classroom before you physically leave the classroom. In fact, don’t mentally leave any moment you are still in, as departing from the present moment takes the enjoyment out of it.
Interestingly, the vast majority of our concerns and our anxieties and our fears are found where? In the future! Unless a large tiger is currently gnawing on your calf muscle, you probably don’t have anything to be afraid of right at this moment, correct? So do this moment and refuse to do the future moments. Can’t you see how huge and life changing this is? Uh huh, but what about the future? Am I supposed to just let everything go now and make no plans for the future? Well of course not, silly! Make the most grand and glorious plans that you can, then do today, today! Maybe in your future you see yourself as an author? Then take some time to write today (smile)…
And what about the past? How do we handle all of those times we zigged when we should have zagged? Or that one big thing? Well, the past is ummm past… We can’t go back to those moments, can we? Shoot we can’t even go back to fifteen minutes ago when we were eating those three donuts, to not eat them, right? LOL In reality, the past no longer exists. It’s gone man! Over.. In the books! Thus imagine the sheer FUTILITY (yelling now) of spending any of your present moments regretting your past moments. Sure, encourage your sweet memories; your times of love and success and appreciation, remember the people you cherished, but do it while you are wholeheartedly choosing to live today.
I realize the simplicity of this is almost too much to take. But if you have ever believed anything I have ever said, believe this; living 100% in the present moments will cause your “joy” and “appreciation” levels to go off the chart! And while you are seriously giving this a try, take a look at your children or your grandchildren. Notice the joy they experience by living in the moment? Oh they don’t have to pay bills? LOL Maybe not, but neither do you at this present moment! (You are reading, right?)
So how can you thoroughly enjoy the simplicity of living life today? Get your vacation mind-set working for you! Decide to be fully alive and observant and mindful of these very moments you find yourself in. Don’t go back in time and don’t go too far ahead in time. Do, be, live, love and enjoy today, as tomorrow will have it’s own issues for you to deal with “tomorrow…”
Mmmm is that the smell of bacon by the campfire? No, it’s the smell of many minds that just came back to life!
April 2, 2013
Since sleeping is not a conscious state of mind, you can’t really know that you were asleep until you wake up, right? Read that sentence again… (No really, read that sentence again…) Similarly, you can’t really know that you are “sleep-walking” through life unless you finally wake up. Naturally, since you know that you aren’t presently asleep, you assume that you are fully awake. But are you? How can you tell? Sounds insane I know…but hang with me for a little bit and hopefully it will become more clear. Being asleep in life is eerily comparable to being deceived. All of us think we are right in our own eyes and are assured we are smart enough to see through things that aren’t true. Yet, people are deceived for a lifetime and sometimes never become remotely aware of the multitude of stuff they adhered to that simply wasn’t true. And, before a person can escape deception, at some point they have to be willing to observe their own life and recognize the effects that result from their own causes and change those causes. Until that happens, they remain in their deceptions, steadfastly assured they haven’t been deceived. In other words, they have to wake up!
How many times have you heard the story where people have some brush with death or disaster and suddenly wake up to the “real” things that life is all about? Or maybe life’s struggles seem too persistent or the string of “gone wrong” has gone on for too long and that leads to a willingness to see what you haven’t been able to see before. In either case and contrary to public opinion, you don’t have to suffer to learn, that is if you are willing to “see” what you haven’t been able to see before. And, have you ever given any thought as to why it is we cannot seem to see the things that are sitting right in front of us? We cannot see because we are distracted. We live within the confines of our own minds and spend our days rehearsing the past and fearing the future. By adulthood we have a pretty good idea (or so we think) about how life works. We have drawn our conclusions; analyzed ourselves into oblivion and developed a multitude of conventions that we live by. We no longer question our reality and play along in a script we don’t enjoy, unaware that it is our very own script. We play our assigned roles (the victim; the happy go lucky one; the irresponsible one; the successful one; the misunderstood one) as if our parts were doled out to us before we were born; forever destined to star in a movie we wouldn’t pay to see ourselves. Egads! We cannot even begin to see how this is all taking place because we have stopped looking and learning and chosen rather to live by some conclusion we drew back in 1985. We are adults after all and we know stuff!
So again we must “consider our ways” and learn to see what has been sitting all around us for years and years. And in order to see, we have to get outside of our own thoughts and our pre-made assumptions and simply observe what is. The only time we have to work with is the time called, “right now!” Yesterday is long gone and the future never arrives as the future, only as “right now.” We have to learn (again) how to be fully present in the moment (like how children live). We have to become an observer of our own lives. Now lest you think I just went new age mystical on you, let me explain. As an observer of our own lives we don’t jump from predetermined conclusion to conclusion, but instead we take the time to focus on the moment. And as an observer we question. We ask ourselves things like “what is causing me to feel anxious right now?” We ask, “Am I listening to the things people are telling me? Am I even listening at all or have I checked out to some future time?” And even better and more impacting we ask God to show us what we have been missing and to help us see the things we can no longer see! Then, after we make those requests, we observe and listen. We make ourselves willing to see new things. We look for the answers to our questions. We seek assured we will find and we knock knowing that someone always comes to the door and opens it.
After you start attempting to live this way (because let’s face it old habits are hard to break) something marvelously wonderful takes place. You wake up! You begin to recognize that your life is ever the out working of your own thoughts and beliefs. You begin to understand that you are the one that writes the script for your own life and that you are free to make yourself what you will. Hey maybe you were typecast as a comedian! Write a new script. Maybe you always got assigned the victim side role. Write a new script. Maybe you could never quite get to the big things you always saw yourself doing! Write a new story. You see, when you are truly awake to life, you can recognize that all those limitations and reasons and excuses were simply stories you told yourself because you didn’t know you were asleep. The life that God intends for you to live is a life full of excitement, vibrancy, passion, love and fulfillment. Don’t assume you are already living it because you cannot know that you were asleep until you wake up! Wake up to life my friends. Live in the moment. Observe your life. Observe your causes and observe your effects. And do it all right now, in the present, in the only time you have. That is a life worth living…AWAKE!!!
March 22, 2013
Recently I find myself fascinated by a book called, “The Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg. In the book, Duhigg talks about how we develop habits. At first when we are after some reward, our brains are alive with activity as we process how to find the way to get a desired result. But, once we figure out a system that leads to the prize (however small), our brain activity quiets down and habit takes over. It’s sort of like an efficiency built into our minds to save valuable thought processes for new challenges. As a system it makes total sense. However, our brain makes no distinction between ‘good’ habits and ‘bad’ habits. And, every habit started somewhere most likely in response to a perceived need. It works like this ~ we receive some cue in our environment such as feeling tired. We learned, perhaps long ago, that when we bite into the yummy donuts that mom brought home we received not only a delicious treat for our taste buds, but also a subconscious burst of energy. Thus we concluded that doughnuts made us feel good (not associating the hidden, added burst of energy). So now, based upon habits that developed long ago, once we register the cue (I’m tired) we wander into the kitchen in search of the reward ~ a doughnut. It wasn’t necessarily hunger that sent us on our mission, but instead feeling tired and unhappy. Thus a habit was formed, i.e. that doughnuts make us feel good. Now a doughnut here and there isn’t a bad thing, but when, out of sheer habit, we reach for a doughnut or a cookie or some brownies every time we feel bored, sad, tired or unfulfilled, we have developed a ‘bad’ habit that makes us fat! (smile) The problem is that the habit, now firmly entrenched, escapes our conscious mind and just sort of kicks in, in response to cues in our environment.
While every successful person has consciously and subconsciously learned good habits that helped propel them towards their successes, what happens when we have developed bad habits that serve only to defeat us day by day? Well, because of the nature of habits, they will most likely continue until we do something different. Let’s say that when you were very young, you learned that significant people (parents, teachers, caregivers) seemed upset with you on a consistent basis for reasons that escaped your young, developing mind. Absent the love and encouragement you should have been receiving, you received primarily only criticism and complaint (Close your mouth! Get out of here! Sit down and shut up!). Then you probably developed a bad habit of seeking how to get your reward (they seem happy with me today) by finding ways to please them (modifying your behavior) in response to the cue (you are annoying me). The result? A people pleaser is born. Now, many years later in adulthood whereby you should know better, you find yourself responding to the same environmental cues with the same techniques. You go to work and your boss ‘seems’ annoyed with you. They haven’t said anything to you, but you have become very adept at reading cues on their faces and in their body language. Instead of employing a healthy attitude (I’m doing the best I can and if you have an issue with me, I suppose you will bring it up…) you subconsciously kick into your habit that requires you to engage in all types of disingenuous behaviors and flattering words to ‘earn’ their approval. Of course on the inside, you are seething because you see what you are doing, but remain unsure as to why you do it! Bad habit = consistent defeat! And to make matters worse, you not only engage in people pleasing but actually subconsciously seek out the scenario that you hate and thus the cycle continues…
The aforementioned scenario plays out in a thousand ways to the unsuspecting victims. Bad habits of thought perpetuate and reproduce. People with low self-worth didn’t come out of the factory that way. Instead, in response to some environmental cues and unmet needs, they learned to feel bad about themselves. They learned to not expect anything good to happen in their lives. And when things go wrong, as they do for ALL people, they blame themselves and attribute it to the flaws and shortcomings they have been rehearsing to themselves for years and years (many of which started when they were too young to know better). A pretty slick trick, you have to admit. If you want to beat humans up on a consistent basis, all you have to do is talk them into developing a bad habit and then it will perpetuate itself for years to come.
So, if you find yourself unhappy, unfulfilled, depressed or just plain worn out by life, ask yourself what stories you have been telling yourself. What are you saying to yourself that no one else can hear? When things don’t turn out the way you planned, is it because there is really something wrong with you or is it because something out there is resisting you and thwarting you from getting the things you want in life? All of us face obstacles to our dreams; our plans; our rewards, but the issue isn’t the obstacles but rather how we have habitually learned to think! And, as Duhigg aptly explained, we don’t change our habits by ignoring environmental cues or by not seeking rewards, but instead we first have to recognize our habits and then seek to change the behavioral response to the cue while still providing ourselves the same rewards.
You are still going to have times that you feel down or tired or unfulfilled, that’s just life folks. But instead of reaching for that doughnut, go for a run or turn off that TV or take a quiet bath with time to reflect on why you feel the way you do (don’t just mindlessly ignore it). Then, think about your successes; your wonderful family or that fantastic new house you just bought. Think about how you can change anything you don’t like if you will just give it some serious thought. Make some plans to go in new directions and get that ol’ mind active and functioning again. Then, go bite into that doughnut and think to yourself, life is good young fella, life is really good!
Just some habitually good thoughts…
March 15, 2013
I find it disturbing when I read comments from members of various religious groups advising people to allow the Holy Spirit to use them; or ask God to use them to fulfill His purposes in life. Call me crazy, but the prospect of someone or something using me is downright scary! Submitting to God, I get; being willing and humble to learn, I get; asking God to work mightily in me, I get; asking God to teach me, I totally get… but God using me to fulfill His purposes, I don’t get! One of the most awesome and wonderful things I love about God is that He never, ever violates our freedom of will. Have you ever seen the bumper sticker that says, God is my co-pilot?” Well, God isn’t going to fly your plane, I can assure you. You have to fly your plane with God’s help. God’s part is to keep you from crashing in whatever form that may take while helping you to master the skills involved. We don’t ever turn over our free will to anyone else and God won’t take it over, so you do the math. That, my friends, is a perilous path. It is similar to when people say things like, “God took away my desire to drink or to smoke or to sin, etc.” We should only wish it was that easy. Instead, God works inside of us to understand the things that may have been hurting us and in that understanding we can make the necessary decisions to change the things that we need to change. So, the first lesson here is that we can’t confuse our job with God’s job. Life gets difficult when I’m trying to do His part or if I’m expecting Him to do my part…
I have often wondered why everyone wouldn’t seek God’s help, seeing He is so kind and helpful. And then I think maybe it is because people view a relationship with God in terms of sin. Sort of like, I don’t want to hear about all the things I do wrong; no thanks! Lesson number 2 – a relationship with God has nothing to do with sin. Oh I know you’ve heard all the preachers preaching about sin and hell and punishment etc. But at the end of the day, that’s just religion seeking to control people by making them afraid. God certainly doesn’t seek your worship and love because you are scared to death of Him. And, being all-knowing seems to indicate that maybe He knows all about the humans he formed and made! Ya know? The word “sin” comes from a word that means, “to miss the mark.” Now think about this for second…you either hit the mark or you miss the mark, right? The difference between really, really, really missing the mark and simply missing the mark is non-existent. There aren’t levels of missing the mark because a miss is a miss. But alas, people like to assign levels and back under the thumb go the sheep! The process of identifying that you may have missed the mark isn’t to condemn you or judge you or defeat you, it’s to help you learn to hit the mark so you can frikken win! (haha I said frikken) God wants His people to win; to overcome; to prosper; to get healed; to live in victory! There are certain choices that we make that turn out well and there are some choices that cause us pain. God doesn’t need to beat you up for ignorantly choosing the painful route, you already suffered the pain, right? Instead, like a good Papa, he simply consoles you and promises to make it alright again. If my young child jumps off the roof and breaks his leg, a lecture about the height of roofs is totally unnecessary, aint it? But some guidance on how to have fun without the pain – priceless!
We need God’s help and guidance (and a whole bunch of love) to successfully navigate life. So, lesson number 3 is to seek God’s help! Ask God to show you why you keep getting defeated and then be willing to see the stuff He is showing you. Now, I should add that He isn’t going to teach you a lesson you need by freaking you out! That is not a lesson. He is going to teach you in ways that you can understand and that you can handle, much the same way you would teach your child a lesson appropriate for their age and maturity level. And while I’m thinking about children, if your child asked you to teach them about something or asked you how something worked, how long would you make them wait to learn the lesson? My guess is that you would begin teaching right when they asked you. God, who already loves you, will begin the moment you ask. It’s not that He isn’t listening to your request, but more that we are not paying attention to the lesson; or don’t believe that this lesson has any value; or presume that the lesson at hand has absolutely nothing to do with the request we made. And there as plain as day, right in front of us, is the beginning phases of the deliverance we seek. Not too heavy; not overwhelming, but here a little and there a little until the message is crystal clear.
In the great archery contest of life, God wants you to hit the bulls-eye every time you shoot. He won’t operate the bow for you, nor will he change the direction of your arrows, but if you are willing, He will work in you to get to the prize over and over and over again. He isn’t keeping track of when you missed the mark, no matter how badly you may have missed it, but instead will lovingly reach out to you to take another shot. And when you sincerely ask for His help in the contest, if you pay attention, you will get much more than you ever imagined! Life is good folks…with God’s help!
March 5, 2013
When I think of a family room, I picture a warm inviting place. The couch and love seat have large cushions and beckon you to lounge awhile. There’s a fireplace flickering and sending out its heat. The whole place is filled with family, all relaxed and feeling free to be themselves. Sure there are occasional arguments and differences of opinion, but everyone is able to get back to the common unity and solve their issues because of the deep abiding love that underlies it all. The pictures on the wall are pleasant; some of family; some with uplifting quotes, and some displaying the beauty of nature. Everything about the room urges you to take your shoes off and stay for a bit. When strangers come to the door they remain there at least until they demonstrate that they are worthy of the family room which is reserved for family, good friends and people that we like. Wild animals aren’t allowed nor any influences that take away from the peace; the sanctity of the family room. Although it is a place of beauty, it’s not always tidy because all who dwell there are allowed to let loose and worry about clean-up after the good times are done. It’s a sanctuary that you can come home to after a challenging day and just rest. It’s where the best conversations take place about things that matter and plans for the future are dreamed up. It is a haven where prayers are offered with thankfulness for the beauty which is this life. It is the family room.
Our minds, in many respects, are the family room of our existence. But how many of us have allowed our minds to become a place of unrest; of anxiety; of worry oer’ the future? How many of us are comfortable within ourselves and really feel free to be ourselves in every aspect of life? And how many of us would rather put on the facade of the formal living room where the furniture is untouched and though filled with beautiful things is not designed for every day use, but instead used to impress those who enter our homes? How many of our minds lack a warming fireplace and settle for the cold air of unresolved feelings and unhealed hurts? How much of our lives do we spend occupying ourselves with activities ever anxious to avoid being alone with ourselves and our thoughts? And what adorns the walls of our minds? Do we have images of past mistakes and collages of the things we don’t like about ourselves? Is the furniture hard and stiff from callousness and bitterness gone unchecked? Can we even stand to stay long in the room without medicating ourselves as a form of escape? Certainly given the reality that we only have one mind from which to function with in this life, it would behoove us to pay attention to the condition of that great citadel from which all of life springs forth!
God, while ever honoring the sanctity of free-will, desires that our minds be a peaceful haven from which we negotiate the many challenges of living. He never promised that our living rooms would never get messy, but rather gave us cleansing, light infused words to help us tidy up the place and invite the warmth back in again. However, He gave each of us our “own mind” with the solemn responsibility to safeguard it and keep it free from intruders.
Keep thy heart more than anything that is guarded; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (Darby Translation)
You see it is our, not God’s, responsibility to protect our hearts and we protect them by deciding who or what has access and who or what does not! I imagine that if you came home from work and found a wild snarling beast in the family room, mission number one would be to get rid of the beast. Yet, how many of us allow wild intruders to remain in our minds and instead of getting rid them, choose rather to work around them and get by using the other available rooms? We may not always choose who shows up in our living room, but we sure as hell can decide who gets to stay! A common misconception of the day is to think that an open mind is one that entertains all visitors. Yet we wouldn’t do that in our homes, would we? We may answer the door, but not everyone gets to come in. Much of the mental unrest that plagues people today comes from allowing things into their minds, that while appearing harmless, carry with them the seeds of unrest. The world tends to be a very negative place and with the advent of modern electronic media, we all get deluged day by day with negativity. But negative thoughts, like a negative house guest, soon affect everyone involved. It’s not naive to avoid all the terrible news, it’s health promoting. Sometimes in our homes things get broken or worn out. Well, the sooner we take the thing to task, the sooner we can get back to enjoying ourselves. Walking by the hole in the wall because you don’t want to deal with it is counterproductive because every time you walk by it you are mentally dealing with anyway. And how often have you dreaded taking on a certain task only to find it was much easier than you thought and that you should have done it six months ago? (smile) To make your mind warm you have to consistently feed it warm thoughts. To brighten up the place you have to open the blinds. And the only way to soften the furniture is to soften your thoughts. Let the thing go. Forgive someone. Replace bitterness with compassion. After all, you know how your mind gets at times, so isn’t it possible that it happens to other people as well?
At the end of the day (ha, there it is), you and I owe it to ourselves to make the most of our short lives and we do so by taking good care of our minds. We should be able to relax and recharge day by day. We should be unafraid of our thoughts and have the courage to take on the intruders that threaten our well-being. We should seek the peace that is our birthright as children of the Most High God. I don’t know about you, but I want my family room to be such a wonderful place that many, many people want to come inside and while they are there I’m going to love them like they have never been loved before! Light up that fireplace, plump the cushions, we are going to have one helluva party!
Just some good thoughts…