You and God, Are You Good?


19_0130_DISCIPLESHIP_Remembering-Your-Confidence-in-Gods-Goodness_1021x640-696x436I often recall with great fondness that time in my life when I first began learning about God. It was in the Spring of 1982 and I had been attending a fellowship with the sweetest people I had ever met. In May, I took a class called, Power for Abundant Living, that literally changed my life for the better. In that 3 week long course, I learned so many things about God from the Bible that seemed to be the polar opposite of who I thought God was and who people said God was. Based on His Word, the Bible, I learned that God was good only and that He wanted the best things in life for me. I learned that He was tender and kind and always on my side. I followed His instructions from the book of Romans (Romans 10:9-10) and got born again, born from above. With my newly found spirit inside, I learned how God would work in me, never over stepping my free-will and teach me things I couldn’t even conceive of before. Best of all, I learned how He was now my Father and that I was His son for eternity. There’s really no comparison for the sweet fellowship I enjoyed with God as my Father during those warm times of learning and growth. God and I were good, really, really good and nothing stood in the way of our family relationship. So, when it comes to you and God, are you good?

Sadly, over the years, our relationship started to change. It wasn’t God who changed towards me, but I had changed towards Him. Some of the folks I was hanging around began to add conditions and rules that were not a part of my early experiences. What was once completely free and based entirely upon God’s grace, turned into behaviors I had to perform to be okay with God. The wrong teaching turned my focus inward and suddenly it was all about what I was and was not doing. Slowly and somewhat imperceptibly, I began to morph into one of those guys that everyone hates to be around, the religious guy. I was so overly focused on my own sin and shortcomings, that I was hard and critical with everyone else. For me, it was no longer about God’s undeserved and unearned goodness, but instead it was about me living for God in ways that others could approve of and endorse. What was once so intimately personal and perfect, became tainted with the commandments and doctrines of men. The odd thing about this, when it happens to you, is that you don’t really see it taking place. All you know, is that what once free was no longer free and the cost associated with the required new life was perpetual misery and a lack of confidence in the One I was supposed to trust the most. Heaven was brass, as the saying goes, and down the slippery slope I traveled. This experience happened for longer than I would care to acknowledge until I finally had the good sense to break away from the folks I once trusted with my life. Some of you perhaps know what I’m talking about. So, when it comes to you and God, are you still good?

Years later, much like a recovering alcoholic, I had to get honest with myself about how I had been living. Instead of relying solely on what men said, I got back to the true doctrine that had once set me free before the bondage set in. I saw again, on the pages of God’s Word, that Jesus Christ had lived a perfect life with God, so that I would not be required to try it myself. I learned again how God had solved the sin problem for me forever and that all that I had or ever enjoyed in my life was completely based upon God’s grace, given to me freely based upon the accomplished works of His son. I relearned that God was not angry with me for my shortcomings; that He wasn’t following me around accusing me concerning my every failure. Instead, like the best imaginable parent, He was lovingly guiding me back to His heart, back to His unconditional love. And, like a flower blooming in the springtime, I started to recover and grow and blossom. I had much unlearning to do and still do at times, but throughout it all I remembered again who my Daddy really was and that He wanted me to enjoy my life. I saw His hand of blessing realized in my life and in the lives of my family. I finally was able to see that it was never about me and what I was and was not doing in my life, but rather what my Father in heaven was and is doing for me; for the people He loves so deeply. It became so clear that what seemed to be good to be true, was so good because it was true. He lovingly and patiently taught me what was really behind my downfall and that the source of my difficulties was an opponent I could not see, working behind the scenes to drown me in religion and the principles and philosophies that man made up in one form or another. It became so strikingly obvious that the practices and teaching not based on the grace filled life He called me to, were error, the same error that makes people hide from God and His kindness; man made doctrines ever focusing on man’s acts and man’s experiences instead of the truth of God’s Word. Once you know, you know and life gets better in a hurry. So, when it comes to you and God, are you good my dear friend?

The truth of Power for Abundant Living still lives in my heart some almost 40 years later; the truth about God and who He is according to His own Word, the Bible. His clarion call to the heart of man is to learn of Him and who He truly is for us, to us and in us. It’s the promise of a life with indescribable peace and assurance. It’s a life filled with abundance in every category of life. It is the constant awareness of knowing you don’t have all the answers, but you know the One who does. It is healing and restoration and repair whenever needed and however needed. It is forgiveness and mercy that has no end point. It is just he greatest possible life there is and it’s there for anyone that wants to learn. You may be just starting out on your journey with God or you may have enjoyed your life with Him for many years now, but either way there’s no denying that life with God is the life He always intended for it be for His precious and beloved creations. So, when it comes to you and God, are you good? Is your relationship filled with happiness and joy and love that has no end? If not, it is always there for you if you still want it.

As for me and God, we are good, so so good…

Just some good thoughts…

Walking in the Mud…


Cog Railway

“Some days you’re the bug and some days you’re the windshield.” “Some days you’re the dog and some days you’re the hydrant.” “Some days you’re the hammer and some days you’re the nail.” I’m sure we have all felt like that at times. Some days for some inexplicable reason everything feels hard and laborious compared to days when everything feels effortless and easy. Just what exactly is going on when we feel hindered and pressured and annoyed? Is there some cause we are unaware of? Is something conspiring against us? Is it all in our minds? What makes us feel, at times, like we are walking in the mud?

Our minds, leading to the great citadel of our souls, serve as information registering machines. Whether we can appreciate it or not, whether we are conscious of it or not, our minds are not only thinking thoughts (which we will address later), but are also reading and analyzing cues in our environment and seeking to make sense of them. Our mind picks up every audible word said or sung even if we aren’t aware it is happening. Behind everything we watch and observe are messages to be interpreted and understood. All day long, you and I are being fed a steady stream of opinions and ideas about life and about how the world works. The mediums that man controls are chock full of man’s concepts and notions and things that have an appeal and things that are distasteful to man. Some things are good and useful, while others are subtle, evil and hurtful. Conversely, the mediums that God employs (think nature) contain messages that calm us and set our minds at ease. Even the colors God has chosen elicit a certain response. You cannot stare at a flower for very long without feeling a sense of wonder about how it came to be; how so much intricacy could be contained in something so small and so temporary. Years ago, our sources for information were far less complex and limited in scope. We still had access to bad news, but it wasn’t all around us. Today, through the marvels of modern technology, we are consumed with a perpetual stream of things to peruse and read and to consider. Many of the messages we receive seem to escape our reasoning altogether, yet their effect is felt in our hearts. There are images concerning what we should look like, where we should live and the kind of fun we should be having. There are more philosophies than there are stars in the sky, happy to inform us of some supposed truth concerning our existence. In this, we find ourselves bogged down without apparent cause. Due to the speed and variety involved, we missed the message, the one that served to assault our happiness and led us astray. Sometimes you find yourself walking in the mud because of the codes you were not able to crack; the ones that escaped your reasoning mind. There’s a reason people feel the need to take a break from social media!

Much of what mires us in the muck comes from the thoughts we are knowingly or unknowingly entertaining. We think so many thoughts in a day, the prospect of controlling them all feels impossible. Yet those thoughts we fail to control; to accept or reject, often lead us to a dark space. Thoughts of sickness and disease are so subtle, so slippery, so hard to perceive, that we miss them altogether. It’s not that we weren’t conscious of the thought, but rather that we let the thought go without feeling the need to challenge it. A funny feeling in your stomach here, an odd pain in your side there and before you know it you are feeling glum and despondent. It’s not that you’ve stumbled upon the precursor to a disease, but rather the fear of its potential existence has entered your awareness. Maybe it isn’t something to do with your health, but rather your finances. Maybe it’s some pending trouble or difficulty reportedly on the horizon. Whatever it is, however it gained access, it is still a thought, not a reality, and what you choose to do with it leads to how you will begin to feel. If your habit is to let things go, those things you let go will mount up and gather momentum. You likely don’t realize it (yet) but something or someone has stolen away your peace of mind and feelings of assurance and safety. With all of that going on in the background of your thinking, it is no wonder you feel tired and despondent. Behind all of the trouble, just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, will be some fear, small or great, seeking to take away the happiness that is and replace it with the threat of what might be. It isn’t that bad things are preparing for you, but instead your interpretation that bad things are preparing for you. Some poor folks have only ever lived this way. You find yourself walking in the mud by your failure to pay attention to and to challenge your thoughts; those thoughts that predict or promise loss for you in some capacity. You have to hear it in order to do something about it. That’s what controlling your thinking is all about!

As unpleasant as it is to consider, there is evil working behind the systems of the world to bring you hardship and pain. All of us find ourselves confronted with this reality. Man has brought this evil upon himself by the choices he has made. Yet, God has not left us without remedy. In the same way that a loving parent warns their child of impending danger, God warns us concerning what is at stake in our day by day existence. The reason He asks us to control our thinking is because our minds are the battleground of the great competition. The way that evil gets involved in our lives is by the thoughts we consider and then unknowingly hold on to.  The more you cleave to and consider some great fear, the more the likelihood of “its” appearance in your life. Conversely, the more quickly you recognize and refute the fear, typically by refusing to consider it any further, the less likely it is to have any impact in your life. That is the fight we all find ourselves in. To think that God has already assigned us some dreadful fate or for that matter some great benefit, is to take away our sovereign free will and our ability to choose. For God’s goodness to be fully realized in our lives it must first be held on to then deeply considered until it enters our heart (that great citadel) from whence our lives flow forth. In order for some catastrophic fear to play out in our lives, it also must be held onto and deeply considered until it enters our heart. Choosing properly what you will and will not think is the crux of the contest, the great competition in and for our minds. Sometimes, you find yourself walking in the mud because you are under attack by things you cannot see, but if you hold fast to what is true, not what might seem true, you’ll find yourself moving out of it.

Do you feel like you have been walking in the mud? Are you stressed and annoyed and agitated? Has the spring gone from your step and the things you used to enjoy become hidden from your view? Don’t despair for another moment. Take some time and get yourself quiet on the inside and think about what you have been thinking about. What is going on back there, looming on the horizon of your thoughts? What fearful considerations have you knowingly or unknowingly entertained? What have you been feeding your mind? What are you watching and staring at and observing so intently? And, if it still remains completely buried from your view, ask God to show you what it is. God is faithful and all clarity of heart and soul comes from Him.

We all find ourselves walking in the mud at times, but we don’t have to stay there.

Just some good thoughts…

The Happiness Quotient


HappinessImage-1Husbands just want to make their wives happy. Mothers wish above all things that their children would be happy. Therapists advise their clients to pursue the things that make them happy. Work performed by people in harmony with their heart’s desires makes them happy. Overcoming great challenges, winning in conflict, improving and succeeding all generally lead to happiness. As thinking and feeling human beings, happiness is always near the top of our priorities and when we aren’t happy, nothing serves as a substitute for it. Gobs of money, grand successes, glorious homes, exotic cars and fancy yachts are no reward for the person who isn’t happy. Happiness is such a primary part of our human existence that we cannot survive long without it. Some folks seem to be happy in every type of circumstance while others cannot seem to find happiness in anything.  Happiness is always subjective and varies from person to person, yet despite the variety involved is universal in its application. Why are some folks happy consistently, while others seem unable to locate it? Is happiness something that can be measured and analyzed to be improved upon or is happiness rather an internal interpretation present whenever we decide it will be? What is your happiness quotient?

Anyone who has lived any length of time will tell you that happiness isn’t something you can purchase. Lots and lots of people with lots and lots of money are quite miserable to say the least. Yet strangely, some folks with truckloads  of money are very happy. Conversely, some folks with very limited resources are sublimely happy, while others spend their days cursing their existence. On the surface alone, it’s obvious that material resources don’t contain the lynch pin for happiness. But, those same resources can certainly contribute to or when absent, detract from one’s happiness quotient. It seems it’s not the things that are responsible for your happiness, but rather your interpretation of those things. Objects have no meaning outside the meaning you have assigned them. Thus, the first step in figuring out your own, personal happiness quotient, to produce more of it, is to figure out just what is going on in that mind of yours. How are you interpreting the events that make up your life? If your interpretation is wrong or perpetually negative, your happiness will be limited no matter what else is going on. If you have been so schooled to see the wrong in everything, cynical, critical and wary of any good continuing, you cannot reasonably expect happiness to follow. Complaining of not being happy while thinking and doing things unhappily is an absurd proposition. Similarly, waiting for happiness to appear unwelcome by pervasive foul thought is an exercise in futility. Happiness won’t suddenly one day show up at your door, it already dwells inside. 

When you really try to break down the components of happiness, one thing is very clear. Happiness is present when unhappiness is not present. You cannot be happy and unhappy at the same time. You have to choose one or the other. However, you cannot somehow choose happiness and happiness will appear. That sounds good, but it lacks the proper substance. The irony is that choosing to be happy does not really make you happy. Instead true happiness appears when you have successfully eliminated the causes of your own unhappiness. Happiness isn’t a treasure you stumble upon and find. Happiness is the reality behind the things that are obscuring it or hiding it. When you feel as if you are not safe or not okay or are powerless against the perilous dangers of the world, you won’t be happy until you find the solution to that problem. Happiness isn’t about floating along mindlessly oblivious to the things that are happening all around you. Happiness is problem solving or at least being willing to entertain the notion that there might be something you don’t already know! For all of the complexity involved with us as human beings, we are incredibly simple when it comes to how we feel. And despite our many differences, we all need the same basic things. Happiness comes when we learn how to get those uncomplicated needs met. 

If you are honest, you know when you are not happy and you know why. Even when our happiness is being stilted and we don’t think we know why, a little reflective thought will usually reveal the answer. However, sometimes the answer is not something we are willing to entertain. But, if it is blocking your happiness, it is worth thinking about. One great thing that generally happy people have in common is their willingness to work towards solutions to their problems, knowing there are always solutions for their problems. People spend half their lives unhappy with their spouse, yet adamantly refuse to do anything about it because, after all, it’s them and not me.  Such refusals to see things for what they really are serve only to perpetuate unhappiness. At the end of the day, it is your job to believe to find the solution to your problems, no matter what they are. Living with and accepting problems is a guarantee for unhappiness persisting. The more you can eliminate the causes for your unhappiness the happier you will be. The more you assign outside causes as the source of your unhappiness, the more unhappy you will remain. 

Happiness in its stripped down reality is really a sense of contentment and safety and assurance that our needs will be met. It is the soul of a person that has ceased from his own works and learned to rely upon another. Happiness is no longer trying to be the sole source of your own needs being met and trusting someone greater than yourself to supply those needs. God is that someone greater than yourself.  God never intended for you to figure out life on your own and your resultant unhappiness is the measure of where you fit along that scale. Again, if you are honest, most of the big problems of life you aren’t going to be able to solve by yourself. Trying and working and toiling to do so won’t get the job done. You can be sincere and a hard worker and tireless in your endeavors, but the things you need the most don’t come from your own efforts. True happiness resides in the heart of a man or a woman who has relinquished their endless fears and worries to someone who can actually do something about them. Real happiness comes when you stop fighting against the reality of things and line yourself up with what is rather than foolishly trying to do it your own way, with your own limited human logic, within the confines of your own mind! Happiness reveals itself after the obstacles to its existence have been removed. Joy appears following a complete and absolute trust in your Heavenly Father to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. The happiness you so desperately seek comes from doing what God said to do, which is simply summarized by believing what He said and thereby thinking and acting in the way He recommends. He won’t ask you to give up anything but your fear, the one and only great hold back impeding your happiness. 

I find myself the most happy when I simply trust God to do the things for me He promised He would do. No matter how things look or whether dark clouds are lining up, throughout it all I know that God will do whatever He needs to do to take care of me and in that I can rest, content, assured and excited about my future with Him. You want to maximize your happiness quotient? Then get out of your own way and learn about the One who invented happiness and knows exactly what you need in order to experience it. Oh my friends, God exists for you…

Just some good thoughts…

How to Get What You Want…


Have you ever taken the time to figure out what it is you want most out of your life? The question, so simple yet loaded, isn’t really as complicated as you might imagine. I often muse that it’s not that we don’t know what we want, but rather that we don’t want to admit what it is. We sort of go with the flow and head down the paths that seem easiest to navigate. In this, we don’t really choose, but instead grab at the first option, always consoling ourselves with the notion that we can figure it out later. Yet, many, many years later we find ourselves on the same old path, just further down the road a bit. It’s as if actively choosing a destination leaves us vulnerable to the possibility that it might not happen. So, instead of actively pursuing our dreams and all the risk associated with it potentially not coming to pass, we settle for something less. We work jobs we don’t enjoy in career paths that seemed the most logical in terms of being sensible, yet miles perhaps from the those things that make our hearts sing. Inside, deep inside you know what you want most and you can realize those things in your life if you will simply be honest about what turns you on and have courage enough to go and get it.

Most people, sadly, live their lives in accordance with other people’s dreams, never really giving themselves permission to go down paths unique to them. Instead they choose approved paths; accepted paths; well-worn paths where the masses travel. They’re afraid to make their own paths for fear of failure or disappointment and in so doing fall in line with societal expectations, safe choices, and generally rubber stamped options that help someone else realize their own dreams. They give their life and energy and effort to working in exchange for money; money that is always not quite enough to allow them to forgo the burden of having to continue doing the same. They do so because the lion’s share of the profit is reserved for those taking the lion’s share of the risk and in their aversion to the risk (fear), the cycle persists. In America and maybe other first world countries, it seems we have all bought into the idea that the vast majority of our life is to be spent in activities we do not enjoy for those rare intervals of respite and freedom to do what we want. And logically, in our leftover time, we don’t have the wherewithal to do anything else. Our best effort, our prime time has already been promised to another. We find ourselves caught in a trap that we cannot find a way from which to escape. We fault the wealthy for their wellspring of free time, yet wish we had the same. We dream of houses and vacations and fun and freedom, but never quite believe that we can have them. Instead we settle for our lot in life, which really isn’t our lot, but instead a well designed scheme to keep us in place, in line and unfulfilled.

We think it is money or the lack thereof that keeps us bound never entertaining the fact that we ourselves are our own limitation. The man;  the system; the wheel of things isn’t what keeps us from achieving or realizing our dreams, we are. Somewhere, somehow, we have been coerced into believing what it is we can and cannot have. We set limits where there are no limits. We dismiss our innermost treasures as fanciful and get right back to the business of slaving away for the things we do not hold dear. We act as if our lives were predisposed to move in one direction; with one set of options and an already established final outcome, as if God has destined us to do so. We are half talked out of any new endeavor before we have even taken the first few steps. When doors open for us, we are afraid to walk through them or waste away the opportunity researching the pitfalls of moving in the new direction. We don’t get what we want because we don’t believe we can get what we want. Even when we have good ideas or begin to touch upon those things whereby we can have the most impact and be the most fulfilled, we move so slowly and with such fearful caution that we seldom have enough time left to get the job done. It isn’t that we do not know how to get what we want, it’s that we don’t believe we can actually get what we want. Instead of doing, we spend time all day thinking and dreaming, wishing and hoping. Someday we can have it, but not today.

The only way you can get what you want in life is to believe that you can. As long as you don’t believe that you can, it is not going to happen for you. It’s not first about putting the time in, paying your dues, being patient or anything else anyone has told you that eliminates the necessity of believing for yourself. Belief, real belief always has corresponding actions associated with it. Belief is not waiting for the future, belief takes action now. Belief does not wait for all of the circumstances to line up, belief challenges and thereby changes the circumstances. Belief is not dependent upon the right degree or winning the lottery or any contrary thing that says you cannot have or cannot do for any reason, but believes and does anyway. Belief, positive expectant belief is the forerunner to all success in every category of life. You will go as far as your believing takes you and you will not go as far as your believing takes you. And, no-one decides what it is you can believe except you. No-one…

It is never too late to realize your dreams in life. It is never impossible to get the things you want; the things you hold most dear. Quit waiting and wondering about it. Stop stewing and brooding and being so damn fearful about things not working out. Those thoughts haven’t gotten you anywhere good yet anyway, have they? Life, this frightfully short life, isn’t about wandering around wishing and praying for those things that would make your life complete. The life you want to live is available for you to live once you finally stop standing around and decide to do something about. Do something now. Think about it. Pray about it. Set some positive expectations, make some plans and begin to pursue it. You aren’t getting any younger. Go and get it. You already know how. Believe, then for God’s sake, act!

Just some good thoughts…

Good Vibes…


Palm-TreesMuch research has been done concerning the energy levels that all of us are producing. Some folks even go as far to say that our energy levels meet before we actually meet. New Agers call it vibrations and posit that higher level vibrations or frequencies attract other high energy frequencies. Higher level vibrations encompass things like love, positivity, abundance, kindness and gratitude, while lower level frequencies consist of things like fear, worry, anxiety, poverty and lack. Whatever you want to call it, however you want to frame it, there is such a thing as good vibes and good vibes appear to lead us to good things. The questions then become, are you living with good vibes or bad vibes? Are the vibes you express automatic or is there something you can do with your mind to encourage or if needed, discourage them? And finally, are the vibes you find yourself living within a product of your circumstances or are they something you are putting out in every situation that you encounter? 

Whenever we travel to southern California to visit our children, I always feel as if the vibe in that sun soaked environment is more relaxed and conducive to good times. The people we encounter seem more comfortable with themselves and the conversation with strangers is almost always pleasant and warm. Conversely, some folks find the California vibe distasteful, filled with liberal thought and people lacking the capacity to understand real world issues. Yet despite that rather narrow view and even more compelling to me, those folks with lots of resources, as evidenced by their beach zip codes, appear so calm inside and willing to engage with others as if they found a secret to living and are content to share that kindness and goodness they enjoy with other people. It was just the strangest thing. So, I have to ask myself, is there some magic in the land of sunshine or is it the vibe I’m sending out in anticipation of a good time? I’m guessing it is the latter! 

As I flash back on that brief, long-weekend jaunt, there was something different I was doing with my mind. I purposefully determined myself not to think about pending issues at work or rehearse difficulties I might encounter. I refused to worry about anything going on. In fact, I decided I would be flexible and wherever possible, just go with the flow. On our first full day, my plans got rearranged by circumstances, but instead of allowing it to mess up my adventure and remain pissed about it, I changed my mind and changed my plans, consoling myself with the idea that I was going to have fun no matter what we did or when. I purposefully greeted people with kindness and warmth and was hopeful I could positively impact someone’s day simply by treating them well. I didn’t complain or bitch about anything. I dwelled on all that was sublime about being with my family and refused negatives no matter the form they showed themselves in. The more blessed and happy I chose to be, the better things felt and the better the end results. And, as I dwelt in good vibes nirvana, it dawned on me that perhaps I should pursue every day in this manner. 

If you really give it some thought, what is it that takes away our happiness or our positive expectations; our good vibes? Most of the time it is circumstances, not so much what is going on around us, but more so our thoughts and beliefs concerning those events. People are both happy and miserable under the same warming sunlight. Whether we would like to admit it or not, we choose fear, we choose worry, we choose negativity and complaining. We hold our own selves back waiting and waiting for it to appear that good things are lining up for us. It never enters our conscious thought that good things and good times are waiting for us to get on the same frequency from whence they originate. We fail to hold up our part of the bargain, but instead beg God to turn things around for us, despite our own sour thoughts and negative disposition. We but half live our lives, afraid to embrace pure positivity should we become disappointed in our expectations, all the while remaining half negative and half positive just in case. In this we are deceived and are coerced into cooperating with the very things that seek to hold us back. The choice to be happy and to remain happy is always ours and ours alone. We don’t really need it to look like things are going well before we decide to act as if things are going well. We just need to change our energy. We need to improve our vibe. We need to be it before we see it!

After you have engaged in the proper amount of reflection concerning this, while all the while staving off thoughts that suggest it isn’t you but rather the circumstances that surround you, test the theory with a personal decision to put your quest for good vibes into action. Choose right now to be happy and stop dwelling on the things that are endeavoring to bring you down. Stop being so negative about everything. Quit rehearsing defeats that may have occurred and lay aside those nagging fears hell bent on predicting your future. Nothing can accurately predict your future as well as you. Lay aside those incessant complaints about people, your job or your circumstances. For God’s sake let it go. No man living ever improved his circumstances by bitching about them. Act as if today is the best day of your life. Look for the good in things, where good exists, and leave all of that monumental fear of loss with God, the only One with power enough to prevent it from happening. Change your thoughts for real. Oh yes, you are going to be challenged. For sure, circumstances will pop up to remind you of something negative. Things will appear to spell some pending disaster or impossible potentially life threatening health issue. That is the contest you (and I) find ourselves in.  Almost as quickly as you work to make positive changes, negative challenges will appear not as reality but instead an ‘imagined’ reality to drive you back into your former lifestyle of defeat. You won’t know until you try and if you never try, you won’t know! What have you got to lose? Put those good vibes into the crucible of your experience and see for yourself. Good, good, good vibrations lead to good, good, good results and they are not limited to the golden coastline of California…

Just some good thoughts.

 

The Dating Game…


the dating gameI know what you are thinking. How is a guy who has been married for almost 38 years going to give you some advice on dating? Great question. So, instead of thinking of this as advice, refer to it rather as the inner musings of a guy who likes to write and to think and to question things as they exist and consider their veracity. I mean, are you sure you have this dating thing figured out? Can dating be figured out? Are you carrying around unrealistic expectations for that perfect someone, whom I imagine if they exist, have lots of competition for their interest? Or are you just a guy trying to get a girl to love him and the converse, of course.  If you find yourself playing the dating game, are you winning? Is dating even a game you want to win? It’s time to further investigate the dating game together.

When I think back to those early years when I was involved in the universal game of girl chasing, I wasn’t old enough or mature enough or maybe even smart enough to have really thought any of it through, at least not to any great extent. I didn’t have a list of things I wanted in a woman. I hadn’t considered whether or not the person I was looking for had common interests with me. I didn’t entertain a bunch of physical must haves other than wanting to be with someone that I thought was attractive; attractive in the sense of attracting me. And sadly, or maybe happily, that was about it. As a poor college student, I didn’t really have enough dough to plan extravagant dates that would impress my would be future companion. Instead, I found myself looking for someone that seemed like they might be looking for me. Chalk it up to naivety or youth or probably both, but that was about the extent of it. Now, as I reflect back, so many years later, I think I was blessed with not knowing enough or maybe not doubting enough to complicate the whole process. Dating shouldn’t be so damn complicated, should it? At the end of the day, I like you and you like me seems to encompass most important questions.

I believe the problem with dating today is all of the complexity people have added to it. The world and social media and reality shows have succeeded in portraying an image of romantic relationships that are not based in reality. There are so many expectations both obvious and implied that serve only to severely limit the options for the would be ‘dater’ or ‘datee.’ Dating, if your end game is marriage or a lifelong partner, is not trying to find the perfect compliment to yourself, but rather the person who seems to offer the most potential to be that person. People, like anything that has free agency and unlimited capacity for change, are always to be observed in light of their potential. When I got married, long before the internet was invented, my wife married me for my pure potential. I didn’t have it together by any stretch. I didn’t have any money. I chose fun above all responsibility, a trait that persists to this day, though to a much lesser degree. I didn’t have a 5 year plan or 10 year plan or honestly any plans at all. I was a science project in pure potential. Yet somehow, incredulously, she saw something in me that was good and fought for it until something good appeared. Do you see what I’m trying to say? Here we are some 37+ years later, still loving each other; still committed to one another. Early on we made some decisions, trusted God and went for it. That’s not to say we didn’t have any struggles or obstacles, on the contrary. We had lots of things to navigate and still do at times, but the bet we made is still paying off in each new season of life. We are not done growing yet and throughout it all we are growing together.

Maybe you aren’t 21 years old anymore. Maybe you figured out many things you didn’t know when you were so young. Maybe you already have a career and increased expectations for yourself and for your future. That’s wonderful for sure, but don’t let that trick you into adding complexity where no complexity exists. The conundrum of choosing the wrong person and subsequent unhappiness exists for every potential relationship. But, by the same token, sublime happiness and fulfillment are also a possibility. There’s just no guarantee as the variable will always be yourself and that other person. You don’t need someone who is perfect in every way as the measure isn’t where you start, but where you end up. If you are going to pick someone, pick them based on their commitment to you and their willingness to fight through the challenges of life with you. No matter how much like a fairytale your beginning is, the honeymoon will eventually end and you will find yourself with this person who has annoying traits similar to your own annoying traits. You are going to see them both at their best and at their worst. No matter who you choose and how much you vet them out, they are going to be a person, a human being, with all that goes along with that. Relationships aren’t about finding the perfect match, but finding the person willing to adjust and adapt and change themselves, by their own free will,  to better enable a perfect match because they love you.

As I travel back in time, I can honestly say that in the early days, I did not give one iota of thought regarding whether or not my parents or my siblings would like the person I chose. I wasn’t marrying for them, I was marrying for myself. Oh sure, she was super pretty (smile) and still is, but I always figured that the person I loved, they would love also for my sake, if for nothing else. Once, when we were feuding, my mom said she didn’t think my wife was the one for me. Once, (or twice) her mom said the same. Yet, it wasn’t their choice to make, it was ours. Save yourself some difficulty by trusting your own heart, not someone else’s. When it comes to relationships, there will always be something you don’t like. Don’t let that influence your ultimate decision. Doing so adds pressure and presumes something that isn’t a real indicator of anything of substance. I think sometimes people treat dating like a job interview where you try to get a sense of the person’s character, but all you really get is a sense of how well they have learned to present themselves to get something they want. Most job interviews are over minutes after they begin as your energy greets their energy and decisions are made. Dating is like that. It isn’t really how polished they are or whether you can relate to everything they say. It’s more the uncomplicated, I like you, do you like me?

My advice or musings if you prefer, is to get yourself out there and meet people. Have fun, have experiences, go and do the things you like to do. The person you are looking for is looking for you as well. You are trying to find them and they are trying to find you. The reason you haven’t met yet or maybe met and haven’t recognized it yet, is because one of you or both of you are assigning too much analysis to the process. You are overthinking it. You are seeking to apply your rational thought to matters of the heart. You are afraid of it not working out for you which is delaying it from working out for you. I know it seems like a lot is at stake, but really what is at stake is your happiness in the moments called now. And above all, share your love and goodness with people. Love the people you encounter in a day. Open your heart to them when it’s right and extend your kindness to whomever you meet. Be the best version of yourself, not with worldly standards and expectations, but with the love you have inside that you are willing to share with other people. Nothing is as attractive to people as love is and the more you are willing to share it, the more you will receive it in turn. Don’t thwart love with too many expectations, but instead love without condition and see who amazingly shows up. My wife obviously took a chance on me, bless her heart. Why don’t you take a chance as well? You don’t win the dating game, instead you find love to share with someone else. There is nothing sweeter than that… Nothing.

Just some good thoughts…

The End Game


prayingWhen I first began writing, “Just Some Good Thoughts” my aim was only to provide a vehicle by which good thoughts of all kinds could be shared with people in order to uplift their spirits. But, the more I wrote, the more I recognized that I wasn’t just offering something nice to think about, but instead something true and reliable and sure from which any reader might recognize those areas of their lives that were not so good and thus seek something new, something different, something outside the established framework from which most people find themselves trapped. People unknowingly and often knowingly have accepted a life that is mediocre, defeated and sad. They wrestle with the same demons year after year, deflated and weary, privately begging for something better; something closer to the life they envisioned as a child when life was still pregnant with possibilities and hope for a bright future. Yet life and time and difficulty besieged them all perpetually and consistently until they finally gave in to the wheel of things, persuaded that the life they were experiencing was real life and that nothing better existed for them. It is for those poor souls I write and will continue to write, not as a chastisement but rather a remedy, indeed the solution to all that ever ailed them. To that end, life is so, so much more!

As someone vitally concerned for people’s happiness, which admittedly began as a quest for my own personal happiness, I find it a shame how far below par good hearted people have been forced to live. The world, with all of its advancements and progress offers no real help. All of the lightning fast technology and clever inventions and scientific research promising to answer the question, “why” still leave the heart answerless, afraid and unfulfilled. Bad things happen to good people and evil men appear to prosper and succeed. Life just doesn’t make sense. For every person there are at least a thousand opinions broadcasted and shared as truth leaving man confused and bewildered. Every answer given is not a real answer but a fabrication, a red herring, something from which an unthinking person might find temporary solitude. But, is it really solitude? If even one part breaks down, then aren’t all parts broken down? Is it possible that truth has holes in it or that perfection is also fraught with imperfection? If something is true then it must always be true in every circumstance and under every condition. All of the rest is error, error compounded upon error, lies upon lies, treachery on top of treachery. It is no wonder that people have given up on goodness and the possibility of a fulfilling and happy life. The life they live is not happy at least not with any lasting permanence. Instead it is fleeting and temporary and founded upon whether or not the sun is shining today or that circumstances have at last lined up to some good end. In this, I submit to you, dear reader, that the life you have imagined does exist, though it be deeply veiled from the mind of the casual observer. The real essence of life isn’t found on the surface, but exists deeper down where the gold and treasures are to be found. 

You certainly don’t need me to clarify this for you, as you have been living your own experience of life. You have been heretofore wading through the muck and mire on your own. Inside, in your private heart, you know that something is missing. You know life cannot consist of merely making the most money and gathering for yourself the most toys before you die. You know precisely where you struggle, but you don’t know exactly why. You know when and where you are unfulfilled. You know how your heart aches for unconditional love and a world where love and kindness hold first place. And on those rare occasions when you have dared to let that warming and consoling love out, the world has punished you for it. Quickly you have been forced back in line with the masses to a life of meager expectations and poor results. You count yourself happy because at least you don’t live the life of such and such. That is not to say that life is without struggles, as it must be for a time, but rather that every struggle may be won and every obstacle surmounted once you find the source, the real source of life. The trouble, which seems far too light a description, is that you are seeking life without engaging the Author of life. You don’t seek the Author because you are inherently evil, but instead because someone or something has deftly hidden Him from your view. The same thing that secretly fills your life with misery and impossible dilemmas is the same one that has deceived you. In his craftiness, he has convinced you of a lie, a thousand lies, whereby all he engenders is falsely attributed to God. The very notion of God causes your skin to bristle as you contemplate the painful, boring existence that supposedly encompasses life with Him. Instead of learning of Him, as Adam did, you hide yourself in the garden from the only One that could ever give you help. This is man’s only real dilemma, whether to reach upward or continue to seek within. Oh my friends, God exists and He is only good always.

The journey you are on is similar to the journey all of us are on. We all have been blessed with one very short and rapidly passing life. We have only one shot at this thing. There will be no great by and by until there is first a great here and now. This is our one life. This is our only opportunity to learn what we need to learn and ultimately win. No matter your present age, there is no plausible, rational reason for you to remain a fraction of your true self. It is not just how life is no matter how many times that has been drummed into your head. There exist real, solid, substantial, concrete solutions to your problems. I’m not talking about religious. pious platitudes whereby the exclaimers still suffer the same fate; the same defeats. I’m not promising answers and help merely as a psychological pacifier that assuages your mind for a moment, until the next hardships arrive. I’m talking real answers, real help, real and enduring solutions. I’m speaking of vast intelligence, unlimited power and ability all founded upon the basis of love. And, He exists for you…

My thoughts for you, my just some good thoughts are that you find the life you have been missing. That one day it dawns on you that you do not have to keep living the way you have been living. That you don’t have to go along with the status quo and relegate yourself to a meaningless existence. That the good life you dream of is a present tense reality and not the stuff of fiction and feel good novels. That you experience the fullness and blessedness from which life was created to be in every facet and phase of your existence. And, finally, that you find the God that made you, though He be not far from any one of us. You owe it to yourself to live your best life. You owe it to the people you love to be a vibrant, lively proponent of life. You owe it to all of those sad, poor souls you can help after you have found the way. That folks is the ultimate end game; a life that is not only wonderful now, but one that will last forever. This is your promised end game of which all humanity privately seeks. This it it…

Just some good thoughts…

Unpack Your Bags…


When you return home from a vacation, you know one of the first things you need to do is unpack. Oh you can leave the bags sitting there with plans to fish out the toiletries in the morning, but you won’t be very comfortable until you supply the effort necessary to unpack. Leaving your stuff in the suitcases leads to feeling unsettled and becomes exacerbated with every passing day. The dirty clothes start to smell and you become aware of things you are missing, at least for a little while. Your mind, your thoughts about things, your conclusions formed also need to be unpacked at times in order to get back to happy living. You have to take some time to unpack.

Have you ever taken the time to contemplate how many things enter into your thinking in a day? One solitary thought leads to another thought and before you know it you are starting to form some conclusions about certain situations. Some thoughts seem centered upon your inadequacies while others pick at your capabilities or areas where you struggle. Mistakes you may have made are somehow compounded and joined with other mistakes leading to unsavory opinions of yourself and your motives. Before you know it, outside of your awareness, you have unknowingly arrived at a destination concerning yourself that is neither true nor substantiated. And, similar to the lazy traveler, you have to give yourself time to unpack it all and get back to what is right.

Failure to take the time you need to digest life’s experiences and your thoughts concerning the same lead to packing around baggage you likely need to unload. Unbeknownst to you perhaps are hundreds if not thousands of microscopic bits of unguarded and unwatched thoughts littering their debris on your mind and heart. That which you fail to control seeks to control you. At first blush, you clearly recognize the errant thought and its effect upon your tranquil state. But, those thoughts not dealt with and confronted lead to more thoughts stacking and adding and conglomerating until at last you find yourself distressed. Many, if not all, of our agitations in life come from these deftly planted ideas and notions that have been left to themselves to blossom and to grow. They grow and multiply because they have been ignored or glossed over and never challenged for the lies they actually represent. When you find yourself troubled, as you necessarily must, your task isn’t to simply move on and let it go, but rather to give yourself time to unpack it all until you get back to the equanimity that is your birthright.

Human beings as a whole have failed to take seriously the importance of right thought and as such get blown about with every wind of doctrine, afraid of this new threat, terrified of some unknown possibility, batted around to thing to thing to thing. In the helter-skelter of confused and disparate thinking, anxious, divided and distressed, they run and stagger and halt and keel never actually taking the time required to sort out the mess and settle upon some real conclusion. It never dawned on them the importance of taking back control of their organ for thinking by allotting the necessary time to unpack it all and get it straight. They must needs pull out the stinky garments one by one until all are gone, the threat dismissed, the situation resolved, the peace returned. Unpacking is required for all that would seek to live in peace.

In order to unpack you must first recognize that which you have packed. You thought the thoughts and you entertained the possibilities. No matter what may be going around you, you are the one thinking the thoughts. It is your mind and it is the one thing you have complete control over. Oh, you may not be the author of every wild beast that flashes across your awareness, but you are the gatekeeper who determines if it is allowed to remain. The competition for your happiness, for your peace of mind, for your overall well being, takes place within the confines of your own mind. We are all assaulted, we are all attacked, we are all subject to seemingly endless accusations and annoyances, but we don’t have to lose the fight. We lose not because we have been harangued but because we supplied no effort to fight back. We fight back by taking the time we need to get things straight. It is not a matter of how much time it takes, but instead have we taken the time we need. Enough time is defined as the rest returning to your soul. Unpacking leads to the promised rest.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of prayer is the opportunity to unpack all of our nonsense and foolishness with Someone far greater than us in terms of insight, understanding and ability. As such, we lay it all out there with great honesty of soul. We tell of our hurts and our troubles, our pains and our dysfunctions. We elucidate our vexations and sources of discomfort with an expectation of answers of peace that help our souls return to the reverie we need so dearly. We talk things over. We get things straight. We sort it out. We clean it up. We start fresh. We get back up. We resolve ourselves to win next time. We learn what we can learn and are that much better off in the next fight. We don’t pretend something is what it is not, but instead we say exactly what it is believing it does not have to remain that way! We lay it all at the feet of our Master and in so doing relieve ourselves of a whole world of burdens and pain.

Do you find yourself troubled about many things? Do you feel confused and divided inside, knocked about from pillar to post? Are you suffocating in the effects of wrong thought and wrong believing? Do you find yourself underwater and barely able to breathe? Start today by making the time to unpack your baggage and get to the clean, fresh air where you can breathe in new life with all of its limitless possibilities… They’re your bags, after all. Unpack them!

Just some good thoughts…

The Revolution


If people live in a difficult environment long enough they eventually band together and demand a revolution. Revolutions happen when the people become so wearied with a certain unfair order of things that they can no longer abide by its rules. It tends to occur in constructs that oppress people; systems that don’t have the same concerns for all individuals and seek rather to promote only the good of the few. And for all that a revolution promises to all the citizens, it typically begins with a handful of committed souls. Is it time for a revolution in your life?

The way that life was designed to be and the way life actually is are often miles apart. People, human beings have been sold a bill of goods and then, overpaid. Absent any information to the contrary, people collectively and perhaps experientially have formed an entire world of conclusions about how things work and have given themselves over to cooperate with the wheel of things, the system; how life reportedly functions. They accept inner turmoil and agitation as natural and even to be expected given all the concerns that accompany adulthood. People are chock full of anxiety on every front. We can’t relax, can’t sleep, can barely function outside mind dulling medications and the like. We’re afraid of disease and disaster and threats of every kind. We’re pessimistic and negative to the point where any good thing is to be closely questioned and carefully examined for its veracity. Happiness, true happiness is always fleeting and short lived. And, no-one seems to ask the question – why? Why is my life so difficult and unpredictable and downright scary? Why is it so hard to get the things I need and want? Why is there such a struggle all the time and even more, what is the reason for my struggles? Maybe it’s time for a revolution!

When things go wrong at work and the company is losing money, people invest their entire souls into figuring out the solution. If your car breaks down, you somehow work out how to get it fixed or replaced. If you have health concerns you go to the doctor. If your child is struggling, you spend untold resources to remedy the situation. If you are unhappy with your abode, you make moves to make it better or even purchase a new home that makes you feel more content. Yet, when it comes to your life, your every day existence, your one precious shot at this thing, you determine in your heart that you have to take it; that you have to find a way to survive. You settle for how things supposedly are and accept it as reality. But, are you sure it is reality or is just your reality? Are you really confident that you know what is going on or are you just guessing? Most people, sadly, are just guessing. They have this vague notion of what life is, usually passed down from their parents or teachers and they resign themselves to that form of life. After all, it’s just the way life is! But, is it? Is life supposed to be hard and then you die. Was it intended in the grand design of things that you as a human just needed to eat shit everyday and be happy or grateful, as some often quote, that you woke up? Everything living wakes up, but that doesn’t mean everything is really living. Maybe when it comes to your thoughts, it’s time for a revolution.

The Designer of this thing we call life certainly didn’t intend for life to be miserable with people barely averting this disaster for the next disaster. It wasn’t part of the plan for people to be pawns at the hands of wicked despot deceiving them at every turn. Man was not intended to live out his days with doubts and fears increasing, terrified of everything and powerless against it. But, this old world has certainly done an excellent job of promoting that existence. People, most people are simply, completely unaware of any viable alternative. They cringe at the thought of life lived with God having been convinced of the impossibility of such an existence. They imagine this frightfully awful life filled with rules for what you can and cannot do. They are convinced they will have to give up everything when all they really have to give up is the fear and the lack and the defeat. People don’t know because they don’t want to know. They are too afraid to even investigate another option, all the while living full of despair and disappointment. God never intended that your life should suck. God never willed upon you your defeats and your losses; your difficulties or your troubles. God’s will has always been the polar opposite for you. It’s high time for a revolution!

There is an alternative. There is a better way to live and in that way there is unparalleled freedom. Just because you haven’t experienced it yet does not mean it doesn’t exist. Haven’t you been wrong enough in your life to be able to accept that possibility? Haven’t you suffered enough in your own, private heart? Aren’t you weary by now of going it your own way? The life that God is offering you is almost unbelievable. Yet it is truth. God is not judging you or angry with you for your so called sinful ways! God loves you and wants you to know the score. God desires to heal you and help you and rescue you. God wants you to live your life in peace and enjoy your days on earth. God wants to answer your every question. God is love and earnestly desires that you experience His love. Yet, He has to wait for you. He will not overstep your freedom of will. He will not force Himself upon you. But know this, He heard every prayer you ever prayed. He knows what is wrong and knows how to fix it. He already knows you and exactly what you need. Won’t you let Him help you?

Do you need a revolution in your heart? Well, get committed and start today to find the answers you need for your life. It’s your one and only life on earth and you aren’t getting any younger. Start the revolution today. God is listening…

Just some good thoughts…

Deceived…


The problem with being deceived is that you do not know you have been deceived! At its core, in order for any deception to be effective, the person subject to the deception has to remain unaware of the deception. There’s little profit in informing someone they have been deceived because in their deception they usually don’t believe you anyway. So why bother discussing such a subject given that there’s so little return on your investment? The point is that the deception only lasts as long as there is no information exposing the deception for what it is. This is the exposure. Have you been deceived? Probably!

As I’ve penned many times before, life is spiritual at its base. Spiritual verities, though often referred to and lauded, are typically misunderstood. They are misunderstood because man needs a standard of truth outside of his own reasoning to separate truth from error. Absent any standard of truth, man is ripe for deception. God does not say that His people are destroyed because they have a spiritual enemy. He says His people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. It isn’t what man knows that defeats him, it is what he doesn’t know or worse what he thinks he knows but doesn’t really know that defeats him. Ignorance is never really bliss! No person that begins to dabble with illicit drugs, for example, perceives that there is something evil behind his pursuit. Instead he relies on his feelings and his newfound discovery of an exciting hidden world he wasn’t aware of before. In this new world there is promise of discovery and insight, indeed awareness he never experienced before. His experiences are generally positive and fun and certainly nothing to be concerned about. He assures himself he has got things under control and knows what he is doing, that is until that which he allows begins to show itself for what it really is and usually by then occurs too far down the road to escape. And like a fish trapped on the hook or a bird caught in a snare, by the time the trap becomes painfully apparent, it’s too late. This is the story of life lived by what appears as opposed to life lived by what is actually true.

It has been said that the secret to the adversary’s success is the secrecy of his moves. As a testimony, most folks don’t even believe there is an adversary. They brush it aside as religious fantasy, all the while being sorely pricked and assaulted by that same source. They fail to see that the life they live is influenced by two sources, one good and one evil. One source promises life, life lived more than abundantly in every regard. One source seeks only to steal, to kill and to destroy. One source encourages and enhances life. The other source diminishes and hinders and thwarts life. Every problem you have ever had, small and great, minor and major, inconsequential and catastrophic comes from one source. Every sickness, every disease, every life cut short, every life lived in bondage, every torture, every war came ultimately from that one evil source. I say that not as a criticism for those suffering or to blame those unjustly victimized and targeted, but as an expose’ and urgent appeal to see things for what they really are. If you are suffering, if you are having a tough time, if you are struggling in any capacity, the source of it is ultimately evil and it is not God’s will for you to live that way! There is a way out, a real source of escape, but it requires that you humble yourself to what God says is true instead of spending your life trying to figure it out on your own. The reason your spiritual opponent gains ascendancy in your life is because you remain ignorant of his devices.

All of us living in this world are subject to the same contest, the same fight. I am not exempt and you are not exempt. I lose the fight sometimes just like you lose the fight sometimes. I get deceived like you get deceived. Being a Christian, indeed a child of God, does not guarantee you will win the fight, ultimately yes, but not necessarily in the day by day. The only way to win the fight is to see through the deceptions and the only way to see through the deceptions is to learn what God says is true in opposition to what the enemy says or portrays as true. The systems of the world are set up and carefully schemed to convince you of things that aren’t true. It doesn’t matter how smart or confident you are, it matters what God says is true. In fact, your spiritual opponent is counting on your own ego to lead you astray. You cannot go by what you think or how you feel or what your parents may have taught you. You cannot depend upon your finite, limited five senses reasonings to discern truth from error. You cannot depend upon your life experiences or your previous successes or failures. You can only depend on one thing and that one thing is the truth of God’s Word.

God invented life and as such knows exactly how it can be lived. Thinking you have to try and just survive life or that life sucks for everyone or that is just the way life is, when it is not good, is to be deceived. With God’s love and help you can solve every problem that ever confronted you or portrayed itself as unsolvable. You can overcome any barrier, every hurdle, all obstacles that ever showed up in your path. You can be healed, restored, uplifted, rejuvenated, revitalized or whatever it is you need to be blessed and to be renewed in your one precious life. It’s not about quoting scriptures and claiming God’s goodness in your life. It’s about seeing and proving it to yourself. It’s about a real and true source of help and answers and solutions. Otherwise, why bother? Lord knows life is too short to live in perpetual defeat!

Have you been deceived in your life? Chances are if you aren’t living blessed and victorious, happy and excited about life, the answer is yes. Don’t stop there however. God is alive and well and chock full of the answers and solutions you need to win against your spiritual opponent. He is just waiting for you to ask.

Just some good thoughts…