February 12, 2016
Doing things right may bring a lot of things to your mind, most of which probably involve drudgery and compulsive adherence to rules, laws and religious dogma. Since me and rules are fairly incompatible, you can relax because this aint that! This is really about doing your life fully, completely, thoroughly; doing it all the best according to what is needed next. It’s about satisfying the just demands of the moment.
I recently watched the movie, “The Intern.” An interesting movie for sure, but the appeal to me wasn’t the clever story line. It was Robert De Niro’s character, Ben Whittaker. However, it wasn’t Ben’s desire to get a job or be relevant or even his patience in working with a pack of young folks. It was the orderly way he lived his life. It was his care for the little things. It was Ben’s full attention to the moment he was in and the demands of that moment. It was his attention to detail. It was his lack of hurry in favor of what should be next. It was beautiful and clean and crisp in a way I can’t yet put into words, but I’ll try.
The modern day laissez–faire notion of life implies that any desire to keep things clean and maintained is obsessive. Demanding to have things put in the proper place is categorically over the top. Organizing desks, closets or anything presently in a chaotic state stifles your ability to live and breathe.” Just let it go man!” “Why are you so OCD?” All this talk about instituting order is taking away my freedom to “just be.” And, like so many things in this life, you sort of end up with the exact opposite of what you were after. Instead of feeling relaxed and unrestrained you feel anxious, hurried and stressed. Well, there’s a reason…
The One who invented life is supremely organized and orderly. His attention to detail is breathtaking. Everything matters and there is nothing made that does not have an intended purpose or use. The reason that nature has such an appeal to you is because there is a fantastic intricacy behind it. There’s no rigidity or straight lines (because that obviously aint it-get it?), but there is an unparalleled order; a beauty; an exquisite symmetry. How about your human body? No matter how it looks outwardly, there’s no sloppiness back of it. In fact, it’s so well done you can abuse it for a long time before it starts to break down.
Order not chaos is the dominating principle of the universe. And, the more you put your life in order, the better you will live. Fighting against and resisting order may feel good in the moment, but, as all illusions do, will never last. What you gain in momentary expediency, you’ll lose in sustained happiness. Your relaxing won’t be relaxed and your letting go won’t let anything go. Everything you walked past remains fixed, perpetually occupying your mind as undone. The coat slung on the banister requests action every time you see it and in ignoring it, it beckons the louder. The candy wrapper in the driveway calls out each time you park. The light in the bathroom whispers to be shut off. Your junk drawer in the kitchen serves as an harassing evil, assaulting your thoughts when brought to light. Order is seeking you, not for itself but for you.
Being a Bible fan, I often think of the account when Jesus was raised from the dead. After the incredible miracle of being raised from the dead, there’s another point of interest you may have missed. In the custom of his culture, Jesus was wrapped from head to toe in grave clothes, sort of like a mummy. When they came to see if he was risen, they noted that he wasn’t there and that the the mummified grave clothes were still there untouched with the napkin that covered his face neatly folded on top. Who do you think folded it? Well, Jesus did of course. Compared to the magnanimity of the event apparently folding a napkin mattered as well. Jesus was and is a perfect man. So, you put that together…
There was a time when people sat down together for dinner, with carefully planned place settings and matching dishes. There was a time when people put their work items away carefully in their custom briefcase. They hung up their suits after the office toil or put their boots in the mudroom for later. People took time to make matches in the sock drawer. They dressed with care and nothing was wrinkled or too worn. Dress shoes shined and grooming was impeccable. There was a time when the details mattered and folks took the time to do things right.
The frenetic pace of today has thwarted man’s ability to take care of business; his business. Distractions exist all over and steal away our time. We have so much to do that we don’t have time to do things right. But, I’d guess you have the same time today that the Ben Whittakers of the world had back then, only minus all of the distractions. You might be surprised to learn in the great by and by, that God will reward you just as much for washing your car as He would for recognizing your service and love to your fellow man. Doing things right extends to every category of life and like any behavior that mimics your Father in heaven, has its own blessings that you can enjoy today.
Doing what you know to do; that which is required in the moment, the clarion call to order, will bring you a peace and a satisfaction that is unequaled in this world. The time it takes to do so will multiply back to you in ways you have not yet imagined. There’s no pain in doing things right. The pain ensues from letting things go. Do it right!
God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…
Just some good thoughts…
February 4, 2016
I remember a time when my wife and I were talking to some friends and she said something that sparked my happy meter and forever etched itself in my mind. She remarked, “Tony isn’t like me, he has a calm mind…” What a nice thing to say! And I have to admit my mind is generally very calm, despite the occasional times I’m like a duck on the water, appearing serene, but paddling like hell underneath. (smile) So, as you may have already guessed, this blog is about cultivating a calm mind.
Before I highlight some key principles, I think it’s important to understand why. Your mind is the center of your life. It’s not just part of your experience, it is your experience. It’s the largest determining factor in how your life progresses. And, as the central hub from which your life proceeds, it has to be in order. Imagine trying to run a business with a thousand random papers and files all over your desk. Picture your warehouse operation functioning properly with no system in place. Instead of success you would experience chaos which may be an apt description of many people’s lives. Good things, great ideas, quiet, gentle guidance, self control, and the ability to problem solve all come from a calm mind.
An agitated, upset mind is like your mouth when you leave the dentist’s chair. You’re drooling and biting through your tongue; your face is sagging and you are completely unaware of it. Or said another way, all kinds of crap is happening to you; affecting you; harassing you, but you are too distracted to see what’s going on. It’s similar to trying to find your ring at the bottom of the pool while the water is agitated. You’ve got to wait until the agua settles down before you can see. Ya get it?
You’re not alone in your anxiety because the whole world is in turmoil. People suffer in silence because they think it’s normal. Some have never experienced peace. But, you should know that you were not designed to live that way. You were specifically designed with a mind so that you could direct your life. You’re not an animal with built-in instinctual behavior. You’re a human being who needs a calm mind. Interestingly, letting everything go; being perpetually distracted and overwhelmed, actually reduces your life to the level of the common beast. You sort of sniff around seeking to get your basic needs met with no thought about what you could really accomplish or experience if you got your base of operations in order.
Stop for a moment to consider how many thoughts go through your mind in a day. How many of them are negative, critical or fear inducing? If you are inexperienced in controlling your thinking (and yes you can control your thinking), I would wager many, if not most of your thoughts fall into this category. “You’re an idiot for forgetting that meeting.” “Look how fat you’ve gotten you big slob!” “Why don’t things ever work out for me?” “No-one gives a damn about me.” “My stomach hurts. I hope it’s not cancer.” You can multiply these thoughts out indefinitely. What runs through your mind isn’t the biggest issue. The crucible that separates calm from chaotic is what you do or don’t do about those thoughts. You can’t crap on yourself all day long then wonder why you feel anxious. And trust me, it is occurring even if you don’t recognize it. You don’t recognize it because you are distracted and if you add up enough distraction, you feel overwhelmed! Simplistic? Maybe. True? Likely.
In order to find your way to tranquility, you have to do some work with your mind. The peace is already there for you, but you aren’t experiencing it because of those rogue thoughts you are letting go. Your primary job is to fight back. Challenge that assertion! For God’s sake, don’t just let it go. You may be a pacifist. You might be the most non-confrontational person on Earth. But, if someone keeps punching you in the nose everyday, at some point you’d have to punch back. Not fighting back parallels the distress affecting your nose region. You’ve heard of the calm before the storm right? Well, there’s also a calm after the storm is over. Peace comes at the end of the fight. You can gauge your success rate by how you feel. But make no mistake, like it or not, you have to take it on. It’s like quitting smoking. It feels impossible at first, but day by day it get’s easier. At some point you even forget you ever smoked.
Once you begin to win that battle in your mind each day, your calm returns like that ferrel cat you’ve been feeding. In that space of calmness; of tranquility; at peace, you can finally see. Not the cat silly (smile), the trouble when it shows up. You’re at last in a position to handle the issues on the front end. As you cultivate this habit, you get more and more accustomed to the peace. In your peaceful state you can sort out the issues; recognize your triggers; think through your problems objectively and best of all, hear that still small voice ever able and willing to give you a solution. You’re no longer distracted by the hundred-fold fears that assault your mind. You cannot be overwhelmed because you’ve been handling your business in the only time period you can affect – now!
Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this, in the ocean of life the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep: wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!” ~ James Allen
Just some good thoughts…
January 31, 2016
There are more keys to living than you’ll find on a janitor’s key ring. There are keys to happiness; to success; to finding the elusive good life. You can find the right thoughts, the proper attitude, positivity, optimism and gratitude. It’s suggested that you declutter, simplify, rely less on material things; and get back to nature. And, all of those things are wonderful, but rarely effective until you finally learn to live the life that is happening right now.
How many of you have honestly contemplated why life seems so complicated? Each day is fraught with things to accomplish; your “to do” list, the never-ending expectations from others. You dream of the weekend, then feel anxious that the weekend is coming to an end. You long for your vacation only to dread when it’s almost time to go home. Everyone is waiting for that certain day in the future, while dragging around those bad days from the past. Even the bad days are really bad moments, but hey, that’s how you remember it! You’re so busy, so overextended, so worn out. Why? Is that how life is supposed to be? Do you win at life by getting the most done? To be happy, do you even have to get all of those things done? Is there enough time to be successful and be happy or must one be sacrificed at the expense of the other?
My wife and I always muse why we kill ourselves to get home from work and then plop our butts in front of the TV for the evening. You do realize that the weekend isn’t the only time to get things done, right? Apparently we don’t. But, I’m guessing that even though you may not fit into that scenario, you have your own rules about getting stuff done. In fact, we all have some rules in place that probably limit us in what we think we can do and when… Those rules aren’t the worst part though. The most defeating practices are those that drag us away from the moment called, “right now!”
Of all the things you wish you could control in life, in reality all you really have is right now. You need to exercise more? Exercise right now. You need to lose weight? Eat less at your next meal. You have a dream you need to get started on? Start right now? Behind all of our “reasons” why we don’t, remains the only moment you can effect – right now. I’m a big fan of making lists and getting things out of my mind and onto the paper. But, if you think it through, often our lists serve as a delay tactic. They’re glorious for organizing, but suck at helping us to stay in the moment. The same is true for setting goals. It’s easy to put that deadline out there, but as it approaches you realize you need more time. Living in the moment helps you remain focused today, which if multiplied out, would lead to the end result if you stuck with it.
Besides helping you to get stuff done, living right now helps you to enjoy the day. A successful life isn’t found in the moments of glory, but in the day-to-day; squeezing the most out of the moments you are in. Someone invites you to dinner, but you can’t go because it’s Tuesday. On Tuesdays you need to get home and watch your shows. Hey, you might not be ready for the workday tomorrow if you get all crazy and go to dinner today. Young people don’t function this way, that is until they also get stuck living for a future moment. We need to quit living in the future and live right now. Happiness is right now. Blessings are enjoyed right now. Knowing the best use of your time is found right now. It’s easy, but it’s hard. It’s only hard because people have become so accustomed to ignoring the moment in favor of preparing for the future. Have you ever watched someone on TV living what seems to be a glorious life; plenty of money, free time, going to cool places or exotic restaurants or fabulous parties? Then you think, well that could never be my life. Actually it could be your life if you wanted it badly enough and maximized your day-to-day to get to your desired end. Why don’t you get there? Because you spend your days distracted, wasting away all of the “right nows” in favor of a wishful future. Maybe all you want is more fun, but you can’t have more fun because there’s too much you have to do, responsibilities and all. However, you can find fun right now, even inexpensive fun, if you will quit dreading some future day whereby your irresponsible fun is going to get you!
Most people spend their days drifting along, caught up in their habits, never taking the time to appreciate the beauty that is today. They’re bored, depressed, unhappy, waiting, always waiting for something good to happen, never considering the part they have to play in their own happiness. Your happiness is your responsibility and you have the time to make it happen. Sure work is important and finances the fun you want to have, but there’s more to life than work. When at work, do work at an exemplary level. When you get home, do everything else you want to do and break out of that rut. Tuesday matters just as much as Saturday.
It’s so sad when you consider how much of your life you spend just doing with no actual plans to do what you want most. What do you want most? What makes your heart beat a little faster? Quit living vicariously through the Kardashians and make your own reality show. Pursue your own dreams. Live your own short life and live it to the full!
Intentional living is all about living your life right now. Quit living for the future and stop dragging around the corpse of the past. Be present today. Do important things today. Change your unwanted behaviors today. Get off the couch, turn off the TV and make something happen. Don’t spend another moment waiting. Your life is far too precious and way too short to live any other way!
Right now is all you’ve got folks. Right now…
Just some good thoughts.
January 26, 2016
I recently read a friend’s Facebook status and her New Year’s resolution, #loveyourselfmore. That little hash tagged goal spoke directly to the core of who I am. You see, of all the goals and plans and changes a person might undertake for the new year, the decision to love yourself more remains the foundation. How many of us really love ourselves unconditionally? How many folks even love themselves with conditions? Most don’t and you know that’s true…
You and I were designed to be creatures of love, from Love. Our hearts were supposed to be tender and sensitive to things and the people around us. We were created to have great peace and an absolute assurance and trust. Our lives were made to be joyful, overflowing with thankfulness for each new day. True love has no trace of fear in it, nor is it critical and fault-finding. Yet, that’s not what people experience, is it? This old world runs roughshod on people’s hearts and often we ourselves are the ones inflicting the pain!
I should offer that loving yourself more doesn’t just mean accepting your bulging midline or the crow’s-feet that surround your eyes. It’s not just staring into the mirror and telling yourself, “I love you.” It’s deeper than that! It’s something that takes place in your heart. It’s something that needs to happen in the deep recesses of your mind. And because the world is always working you over, often imperceptibly, sometimes overtly, you need to fight back all the more. You have to learn to “hear” yourself, not loving yourself. You have to get real serious and determined about this love business!
Absent God and His goodness, the best you can ever do is learn to love yourself conditionally. In childhood, we all learned that if we chose certain behaviors, the adult responses were more favorable. And even with that in mind, we didn’t always get the love we needed. It’s not about blaming our parents however, because they grew up under similar conditions and their parents before them etc. Yet within that cycle, we became adults operating under the same faulty guidelines; the notion that love was based on “good behavior.” Love isn’t a reward for doing right. Love is a decision that precedes “doing right.” Love is a choice we make and to love yourself is one of the most beautiful. But, you will never get to unconditional love until God gets involved. God is the source of unconditional love and it is His love that finally convinces us to love ourselves without condition.
Attending a conference in New Orleans, I had to make a trip to Bourbon street. So, I went with my colleagues to the infamous street and enjoyed the craziness that is that place. Yes, I saw the bead tossing and a record number of drunk people. And, as you might imagine, “when in Rome…” (smile) But, I saw something else as well. I saw great despair in the eyes of broken people living difficult lives. I saw the locals who weren’t fortunate enough to be the tourists and who were not returning to a comfy hotel. I felt their desperation and it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t have any cash in my wallet, as I would have emptied it all last night. I saw people who had given up on love a long time ago. I witnessed the end game of the world having its way with people and ruination that goes with it and I found it strikingly sad…
No matter your most sincere efforts to help people, you can’t really help until you learn to love yourself first. You can’t give out what you don’t have. What you’ll give out is what you’ve been giving yourself. The criticism and self judgment you abide with won’t stay inside, but instead leaks out and affects the hearts of everyone around you. Your pain and unresolved issues will inflict active pain to, and passive apathy with, everyone you encounter. Your negative feelings toward yourself and your secret lack of self-worth serves only to devalue the masses and breathe negativity and darkness into people’s hearts; the very hearts that need your love the most. You won’t consider the kind words because you don’t hear them inside your own head. You won’t convey safety for people because you certainly don’t feel safe.
Can you imagine the change you can engender when you finally decide to love yourself ferociously, unequivocally and always? Can you start to see the impact you will have on everyone and everything, when love comes first? Love heals people’s hearts, not medicine. Love changes behavior without compulsion. Love rescues and delivers and saves. Love grinds away the layers of cement that envelopes hearts and helps them begin to feel again. Love makes pliable the hardness; warms the cold; colors the grayscale; lights the darkness; repairs and mends; makes straight the crooked; fills in the gaps; encourages, builds and makes all things grow. Love is just the greatest thing there is and you owe it to yourself to find it with earnest!
During our shenanigans on Bourbon street, one of my new friends stopped to help a young guy who said he drew pictures. All he had was a ballpoint pen and some crinkled, white sheets of paper and following him a ragged suitcase that appeared to be his home. He seemed to fade in and out of reality as he spoke and was largely inappropriate and in most cases vulgar. On and on he went with a sketch that seemed to take an hour. As we stood there anxious to move on and end the madness, she kept mouthing, “he needs my help.” When he was done she complimented his work and gave him $20 dollars, to which he exclaimed, “I love you.” The drawing wasn’t, by any means, spectacular, but the random act of kindness, love and compassion sure was! I was blessed to experience a person who truly loved herself and was more than willing to share that wonderful love to help someone else…
Love yourself more and so much more in 2016 because you and this world desperately need it.
Just some good thoughts…
January 18, 2016
You know how it feels when you finally invest the time to clean up a room or the garage or organize your closet? You usually don’t feel like doing it and unless you’re my wife, you typically wait too long to do it. But after you get the job done, no matter how much internal bitching you did in the process, you feel sublime… And, like any place you store things, that thought storage shed, called your mind, needs some regular cleaning out as well.
People, as a whole, drag around a lot of crap in their minds. They remember and retain every wrong word and deed they ever did. They hold onto their hurts like honor badges. Yet, they cast away accolades and approbation like used tissues. They cleave to what harsh thing daddy said when they were eleven, and tune out the good words from every other adult since that day! People walk through life in a perpetual state of discontent. Through their minds flash important things to handle, that are left unsaid. They clearly see the decisions to make, yet fail to make them. They post themselves in long-term limbo neither going backwards, nor moving ahead. Their mental closet is chock full, unable to appropriately address the most important issues of that precious time called today. Why, oh why?
The infamous “why” is obviously complicated, but no more complicated than understanding mankind’s obsession with what’s wrong over and above what is right. Add to the confusion a lack of willingness to actually solve the issues and you have a recipe for long-term limbo and perpetual discontent. Or in other words, a closet full of garbage and like any apparently huge, foreboding project, you don’t take on the task, though you desperately need to, because the job appears too hard. It’s sort of funny because if you were to measure the amount of energy you spent tripping over your mental clutter, it would vastly exceed the energy needed to figure a couple of things out. I say a couple of things because generally you have one large issue to resolve which secretly influences all of the smaller decisions.
So, where do you begin? Easy…what is on your mind the most? What difficulty; what issue; what dilemma hits your mind every day? That background thought that haunts you is the problem! You have to take it on! Brushing it aside might work for the day, but there it is still, like an infected sore poisoning all that follows after. Solve that; deal with that; work on that!
Recently I cleaned out my walk-in closet. As I toiled though the racks, I found item after item that no longer had any relevance in my life. There were suits that were 100% wool, but no longer in style or relevant. Old shoes that were still new looking, but never worn. There were dress shirts and Polos that I haven’t touched for years, but held because they still looked good though they never made it to my body. How many things in your life are now outdated? What things are you cleaving to that once held significance but no longer do? Life, like a wardrobe, changes. In order to be successful, you have to change. It’s not optional or a luxury, it’s a requirement. How many of you are stubbornly clinging to life as it once was? Like you, I have fond, oh so fond memories of sweet past times, but you can’t go back. You can certainly dream for and enjoy something better in the future, but you cannot go back. Longing and pining for a sweeter, former time in your life is an exercise in futility as it goes against all of the laws of life. Time marches on and you have too as well…
Can’t you see that your issues are generally centered around some event that happened in the past? Or, you are harboring some dreaded potential event that might happen in the future. Past, future, both acting as mental clutter that serves no real purpose other than to fill your mental closet. Your mind, as incredible as it seems, was designed to handle the issues of today. Imagine what your life would be like without all of that dredge from the past. Think of life absent a multitude of groundless fears of the future.
The reason you stay stuck, mummified in the past, is because you choose to do it. You choose to hold onto the memory. The event, no matter what it was or how dreadful it was, exists only in your memory. The future terror you rehearse day after day exists only in your mind and will cease the moment you choose to make it cease! Clean your closet; make room in your closet; free up your closet to store the things of today.
In order to be successful in this mind cleansing business, you have to be honest with yourself. There’s no shame in being a human. The shame lies in forfeiting your precious life that you are living right now for a life founded upon the past or the future. Live today, do today, overcome today!
As odd as it sounds, you have a right to be happy today. You have a right to live a full life today. You have a right to breathe free air, no longer shackled by the past nor afraid of the future. You’ve got one shot at this thing and the time is so short. Make up your mind to free yourself from the mental clutter the world is drowning in and live free now!
The demands of living successfully today are great and require the use of your entire closet. Empty that thing out and live. You deserve that, don’t you think?
Just some good thoughts…
January 10, 2016
If you are born again of God’s spirit, your relationship with Him should be the sweetest thing this side of heaven. However, for most, it seems, it is just the opposite. Well, there’s a reason for this and that reason is called, “religion.” Sounds like quite a contradiction, I know, but being religious and having a vital relationship with God are often miles apart.
The issue isn’t the sincerity of the believer or their heartfelt desire to walk with God. The crucial issue centers around what the believer “thinks” is required in that relationship, which, when religion gets involved, contradicts the Bible on every front. Religion, in its thousand-fold forms always, always, always put the emphasis on what man is or isn’t doing. Conversely, true Christianity’s focus is always, always, always on what God has done and will do for you, the believer. Now, just let that simmer for a minute…
Look, I aint trying to bash your religion, whatever that might be, I’m just trying to tell you some stuff that I know is true from the Word of God, which if you dare to believe and understand it, will completely change your life and your relationship with Big Poppa!
First and perhaps most important, God is not following you around monitoring your behavior. He’s not condemning you, making you feel guilty or convicting you by the holy spirit (whatever the hell that means)! Surprise! God already knows your behaviors and thoughts aren’t always righteous and as such made a way to make you righteous before Him without it being based on your (and my) ever fluctuating behaviors. His son, Jesus Christ (who, by the way didn’t have a sin nature in his blood) walked perfectly by his free-will, so you wouldn’t have to! Your job is to believe in his sacrifice for you and thus God reckons righteousness unto you, because you chose to believe! Come on now, do you really think your sincere commitment not to cuss or smoke would really make you righteous in God’s sight? It’s just silliness; a silliness promoted by religion that ever seeks to make it all about YOU and not all about God! Note* Insert whatever foolishness you’ve been taught in place of no smoking and no cussing!
Who in the world wants a Father who constantly abides to criticize you and point out what you aren’t doing and should be doing or are doing that you shouldn’t be doing? Lord have mercy, do you do that with your kids? Well, if you do, stop it, because that crap is evil. There is someone who is accusing you day by day, but he isn’t God! And, just for the record, almost the entire book of Romans focuses on this issue because it’s that big! (Book of Romans…in Bible)
Next, I have to address the Facebook meme frenzy, whereby God is doing some dastardly sh*t to you to make you better, somehow, someway! Like… God saves the toughest challenges for His strongest people or God’s testing you to make you better or anything that implies that God does negative stuff to make you worthy or humble or whatever! This, my friends, is a lie from hell! God doesn’t need the stupid adversary or evil to perfect you. Where did you ever get that insane idea? From religion, that’s where you got it. It comes from a lack of understanding regarding evil and in that ignorance attributing everything that happens back to God. What possible purpose could God have in causing a disaster where people are killed? It’s nuts, if your brain works, but somehow acceptable in religion. You know, God is mad at the ______ (insert who you are mad at today) and that’s why that happened. Again the focus is on what? The people and what they are and aren’t doing! What a fantastic delusion! Get rid of the source of the problem, blame it on God and totally screw up the sincere believer.
God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. No darkness…at all…ever! Just for the record, supposedly giving people sickness is darkness. Killing people is darkness. Making life generally hard and annoying for some vague, unknown lesson is darkness. Threatening people with a life lived in perpetual torture called, “hell” is darkness. There’s no hell as described afore, in the Bible. Who the hell (pun intended) would run it? So, who told you all that garbage? Religion did, that’s who! To help you, you ask? No, to control you! It has nothing to do with your relationship with God and everything to do with your relationship with the people who seek to control you! Maybe that’s too blunt for you, but by God, it’s the truth and if you are ever going to feel good about your relationship with your Heavenly Father, you need to know the truth!
Time fails me to speak of bead counting, chanting, lighting candles, repetitious prayers, going without, kneeling, going to this place at that time, avoiding that place, sacrificing, not drinking, cussing, smoking, no sex, no caffeine, no medicine, no, no, no, no – arghhhhhhhhhh, misery! No wonder you don’t want to talk to God except on Sunday when it’s required! No wonder the mention of His name makes you uncomfortable. No wonder you don’t share your heart with Him, after all, He might figure you out! Newsflash!!! He already knows all about you (duhhhh) and still loves you! He is God, for God’s sake! Do you really think there is some aspect of your humanness of which God isn’t familiar? Really?
Religion really is the opiate of the masses, but unlike other opiates, doesn’t make you feel better. You have to give God more credit than that! Seriously? Beads? Chanting? Saying the same crap over and over again? Would any of that bless you as a Father? Mother? I think you really might be after, above all else, their heart! Well, it may surprise you that God is after…..wait for it…your heart; your free-will; unforced or coerced; just because; for love’s sake; heart… God wants to give all His greatness to you! He wants to help you and heal you and restore you and make you smile. He desires to give you life and that you have it more abundantly!
Like I said, I aint mad at your religion, or whatever your allegiance is to, or what your folks taught you or what your pastor said. My aim is ever and always your freedom to live and enjoy this life. I didn’t make this stuff up. This is God’s Word of “religionlessness” for you.
Just some good, free thoughts…
December 16, 2015
I was thinking today about how many people there are that pray for things and how many people don’t seem to get any results. I’m not talking about hopeful, casual utterances, I’m talking about sincere people with real needs who pray heartfelt prayers about vitally important issues. You know what I’m talking about, right? Heaven’s brass; nothings happening…nothing! So the crucial, vital question is why!
What I’m about to tell you may clash with your theology. It may smack up against your preformed ideas. It may even make you get a little angry, so just hear me out, okay?
There may be a multitude of reasons why your prayer life feels like an exercise in psychology, but those reasons really center around a few main points that I hope to make abundantly clear.
First, let me clarify some general truths that you need to understand. The answer to your prayer or lack thereof isn’t a function of God’s decision. God isn’t answering with a resounding “NO” because He has another idea or a better idea or anything else that moves the believing responsibility from you to Him. Sure Father knows best, but Father, the perfect One, doesn’t make your decisions for you. He can enlighten you, teach you and help you, but He isn’t going to decide for you. That always was and always will be your job. If my son wants an Xbox, and let’s face it they’re expensive, I do my best to get him an Xbox. Imagine me giving him a board game and explaining why it will be better for him with some ethereal reason that doesn’t make sense to me or him. Side-note* Nothing is too costly or too expensive for God!
Next and almost as important centers around the confused and erroneous notion that God answers your prayer based on your good or bad behavior. God is not Santa Clause; a fictitious story we make up to appease our children during the holidays. (I’m not mad at Santa and perpetrated the same stories…) Do you really think you could become good enough to somehow earn God’s goodness? Lord, if that was the standard we all would have forfeited answers to prayer yesterday! And, even if you are feeling particularly righteous today, how much further do you have to go to get to God’s perfection? That, my friends, is a hamster wheel of epic proportion! (Trust me…)
The final “biggie” is entirely composed of your actual expectation. In your heart of hearts, what do you think is really going to happen? I mean the real you, not the Facebook advertisement version of you. Can you even conceive that God could actually do something about your dilemma or are you simply throwing the words out there in hope that maybe, just maybe the stars would align; your ship would come in; you would finally catch a break and whatever else goes along with happenstance and luck!
The truth concerning answered prayers and softening your relationship with heaven is found in alignment and agreement. You have to align your prayers with God’s promises to you and agree with Him about it coming to pass. It’s not a question of His will (no matter what such and such told you), it’s a question of your belief. I’ll say it another way. Do you know what God says He will do for you? (Seems logical to find out if you are praying to God) If you know what His promise is to you, do you believe God can do it? If you believe God can do it, do you believe He will do it for you? In order for you to get an actual, tangible, solid, real answer to prayer, your response to all of those questions has to be a resounding “YES!” Not God’s answer, your answer! God’s answer is already yes!
Whenever and wherever your prayers do not come to pass, the answer will always be found in you (not in God); namely are you in alignment with Him and are you in agreement with Him. I should clarify that by alignment I mean are your thoughts lined up with what He said? If you aren’t careful, you take a statement like that and turn it into a religion. You start preaching that being in alignment means always doing everything right and before you know it you have the 1st Church of the Aligned Order. See above truth concerning earning God’s blessings!
In order to receive anything from God, you have to somehow get your old noggin lined up with the promise of God and become absolutely convinced that it will come to pass. What the situation looks like or what people say is possible or what has been scientifically proven to be true doesn’t have a blessed thing to do with it. God’s power and ability are unlimited! With God nothing is impossible. If He can raise someone from the dead, what can’t He do about your dilemma? I’m assuming you aren’t dead yet, are you?
I don’t know how to say it any more clearly. Answered prayer is predicated upon your fully persuaded belief that God both wants to and has the ability, to do it! If it didn’t come to pass (in terms of your life and not other people’s lives) then you weren’t yet fully persuaded! But, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet because you still have time to get your old, obstinate mind fully persuaded. Your work in prayer doesn’t involve becoming righteous, it involves working to become convinced. You have to get to the place where, in your mind, it has already happened. Begging, pleading and bargaining simply means you still have doubt and as such you still have some mental work to do. Welcome to the human condition. Welcome to the fight where you choose spiritual realties over five-senses appearances. When it comes to choosing to believe God, you cannot count on the senses evidence or signs or indicators. You just decide and joyfully see for yourself!
Believing God is simple, but not always easy. But, alas it’s how it works and the system isn’t changing anytime soon. Believers believe and if you are going to invest in prayers, you may as well learn how to do it effectively.
It may surprise you, but God wants you to learn this even more than you want to learn it. Would you expect anything else from the God of love you have been communicating with so persistently?
Get your prayers answered folks! That’s what God wants for you in every situation. He’s God people. He’s cool like that! ;-)
Just some good thoughts….