Football and the Great Competition of Life…


81e6f2665c8838fd8c572d63c354cbceHaving a son that played Division One football, I can tell you that football is a rough sport.  Once you get to a certain level, everyone is fast; everyone is strong and everyone can hit you hard!  And the closer you get to the action, the more brutal it becomes. You see, football, unlike many other sports, offers serious physical consequences if you make a mistake.  The threat of actual physical danger enhances the competition and don’t get it twisted, it is a serious competition!  When the commentator says, “the quarterback is running for his life” he means it…  So what do football and life have in common? Are there some parallels that we can learn from it?  What is it about football that keeps us glued to the TV set?  And best of all, what lessons are contained in a competitive, physical sport that apply to the great competition of life?

I think most of us are very interested in being happy, pursuing happiness and spending time perplexed about why we aren’t happy.  And in our quest we continually search for principles and keys that we can discover and apply to make life better.  Yet, sadly we lose sight of one great reality that surpasses all of the others, namely that we are a spiritual competition.  Your life, my life, takes place amidst a spiritual competition.  And whether we choose to compete or not, we are in it!  For a football team to be successful, they have to study their opponents and discover their tendencies, their patterns, their methods of attack.  They spend hours analyzing film looking for weaknesses and ways they might exploit those weaknesses.  In short, they understand that they cannot be successful until they have gained a good grasp of what their opponent is trying to do to them and then planning in advance to thwart those efforts.

Life is like that, yet how many of us understand it and make intentional plans to overcome the challenges?  Most people (and I don’t think I’m exaggerating here) have been lulled to sleep with false beliefs that there is no such thing as evil or that evil only exists in our minds or that evil is something men came up with to explain things they don’t understand? Almost everyone is okay with speaking of God or of love or the universe, yet refuse to consider that evil exists in the world.  Remember the movie quote, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Well, he does exist and what you don’t know (or refuse to know) does hurt you!  Let’s say you get inspired by some book or a speaker and decide to make some positive changes in your life.  Your excited about your possibilities and off you go to make a change.  Then, the adversary (that does exist and has been responsible for the defeat you are experiencing) decides to come with an all out blitz and down you go, back to yesterday’s defeat!  Yet, incredulously, instead of recognizing your opponent, you scratch your head, look to the heavens and ask God why you cannot get ahead! You have failed to plan for your opponent, or worse, refuse to recognize that you have even an opponent!

The spiritual competition of life is simply stated as two spiritual forces at work and allowed access into your life by what you believe.  God is always at work to bring you the good you seek and the adversary is always at work to defeat you and bring you into bondage.  The adversary’s three-fold ministry is to “steal” to “kill” and to “destroy.”  He is at work to steal your happiness; steal your prosperity; steal your health.  He does so by working over your mind, day by day, with wrong beliefs, wrong thinking and negative expectation.  And he is damn good at it!  So good that you won’t even recognize that he is doing it.  You think it’s just life but it’s not life, it’s a lie he got you to believe.  And thus believing you continue on in defeat.  Can you imagine setting up your play on offense and then being surprised that your opponent also has a play designed to beat your play? He pretends to blitz, then drops back into coverage and intercepts your pass.  Why me God?  Ummm because you have an opponent?

We all have certain weaknesses, certain tendencies right? We have areas of our lives that aren’t so good and behind them false beliefs and ideas that aren’t so good.  The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we are going to find that happiness we are after.  And they way we recognize is by taking the time to think about what we have been thinking about.  What thoughts have already gone through your head today?  “I’m so fat!”  “I am undisciplined and lazy!”  “I’m not smart enough!”  “God is mad at me!”  “Why did I drink so much!”  “No-one respects me!”  “I just can’t get ahead!” And on and on and on…  Those thoughts, stealthily encouraged, are your opponent talking you out of the good God has planned for you in life!

So, my friends, whether you like it or not or believe it or not, life is a spiritual competition.  Every moment of every day you are competing and you win or lose by where you let your mind go or better where you decide to take your mind (intentional living)!  You have an opponent, a personal opponent, that is seeking to blast you as a defenseless receiver and he doesn’t care if he gets a penalty flag!  (15 yard penalty, but you aint getting up!)

Now instead of spending another moment asking God – why????? – recognize and acknowledge that you have an enemy and that maybe, just maybe he is behind the defeat you are presently experiencing.  Don’t be afraid, however, just decide to change your thinking!  Change your mind, thought by thought and quit allowing negativity access to your head!  You can do it folks…you have to!

There he goes, to the fifty, the forty, the thirty, the twenty, the ten, the five, touchdown!!!   (Loud cheering!!!!!)

Just some good thoughts and go Cowboys!!!! ( 😉 )

 

Learn to Believe…Again


Why-Happy-Children-Grow-up-as-LosersOne of the greatest principles in all of life is that of believing!  What you believe is what you receive in life with an exactness and precision that is breathtakingly accurate. Believing forms the foundation of who you are; your level of success; your health; your happiness, everything!  Yet how many of us really understand believing for the simplicity that it is and are able to use the principle to improve our lives?  You cannot get anything without believing.  If you have too little, you have believed for too little.  If you struggle financially it is because you have not yet believed to get your need met.  If you are besieged with health problems or any problems for that matter it is because you have not yet believed to overcome those difficulties.

Remember when you were young and your mind and heart were filled with great expectations for the future?  You could do anything, be anything and have anything you wanted.  And, you were absolutely right!  Then something happened to you.  Oh you didn’t see it coming, but it got you just the same.  This old world talked you out of what you believed and replaced it with limitations and “realistic” expectations and “grown-up” thoughts!  You inadvertently traded your dreams and desires for other beliefs; beliefs that life isn’t fair and that you win some and lose some; that life is random; that there is no God because of ______… You were tricked into thinking that there was something called chance and destiny that chose your future and thus acquiesced to what things looked like rather than what things could be.  And, if you are honest, you know that things haven’t turned out how you would have liked and that you have chosen acceptance rather than challenging the status quo.  “It is what it is,” but it doesn’t have to stay that way, that is of course, unless you believe otherwise.

Believing is the greatest law in the whole world!  Believing cures diseases; changes relationships and brings increase and success and prosperity.  Everyone believes something and believing works in every case for Christians and non-christians alike.  So, you have to ask yourself, what do you believe?  No, I didn’t ask what do you think or what would you like or what have you hoped for.  I’m asking you to look deep down, inside your own heart and answer for yourself, what do I really believe?  How do I think life really works? Am I powerless in a world that does what it wants or do I have control over what happens to me?  Believing is your control over a seemingly uncontrollable life.  Believing allows you to tap into a power you may not ever have experienced before.  Believing works in every case and cannot be denied by anything, anywhere!

I like to shave in the car on my way to work.  Last week before I went to bed I had the thought that my shaver needed to be charged, but in my usual fashion, went by that thought and didn’t plug my shaver in.  As I drove to work the next morning I was thinking that I might need to meet with a potential client that day and hoped that my shaver was charged enough to shave.  I turned it on and, “click” nothing happened.  It was out of juice.  I thought maybe it was clogged so I emptied it out and, “click” nothing!  Then I thought, okay God I need you to give this thing some juice so I can shave.  Then, interestingly, I also thought, “now don’t just turn it on and see if it works (which would introduce doubt) but instead just turn it on and immediately start shaving (as if it was charged)!”  I turned it on and immediately started shaving and guess what happened?  It was on, by God, and I was shaving.  I hurriedly shaved feeling incredulous that it turned on and then turned it off when I was done.  Then I remembered I hadn’t trimmed my mustache and turned it on again to finish (yeah, it came back on).  Then I thought, well that was cool and I’m done now.  I bet if I turn it on again it won’t work.  Click – nothing…

Now you could argue that it was just cold or really had some power left or some other “rational” explanation, but you would be wrong and relying on what the world was telling you was possible rather than on what can be accomplished by believing!  That thing came on because I believed and acted on my belief. Was what happened a life or death situation?  Of course, not.  But that same believing also works in life or death situations.  You see, believing is simply getting your mind and heart convinced of some reality and refusing any other outcome.  If you believe something, you act on it without hesitation, without doubt.  If you doubt or trust what it looks like or what the doctor says or what the economy says or what your family says or anything that negates what God says, you will be in effect talked out of your believing and receive the results or lack of results of your own believing.  It really is that simple

So, my friends, you need to learn to believe…again.  You need to take the time to learn what is available to you in life (suggestion-the Bible) and choose to believe what God says, which by the way is how you thought when you were a child, before the world got to you.  You can change anything in your life.  You can go from poor to prosperous; from sick to healthy (no matter the disease); from sad and miserable to happy!  You can; you should; it is your birthright!

Our great God has so ordered life that He gave you control over what happens to you and that control is found in what you believe!  Don’t foolishly discount believing as fanciful or reserved for religious zealots, but see it for what it is, God’s solution for you in a world that seeks otherwise.

Just some good thoughts that I hope you believe…

 

How to Maximize Your Joy During the Holidays… It Aint About You!


OCC-3This time of the year is often an emotional roller coaster of feelings that surge to incredible highs and sadly to overwhelming lows. Whether the holidays remind us of times long past or joyful present moments, there seems to be a common component at the heart of it all.  That my friends, is the subject of this blog. So the million dollar question?  How can we make the most of the holiday season and maybe even, how can we have some of that joyful experience others seems to be enjoying?

I vividly remember how I felt at Christmas when I was a youngster.  People seemed nicer then usual.  Folks were a little more patient; a little more forgiving and had no problem giving out their love regardless of the receiver. Then, there were those Christmas gifts.  One Christmas Eve I woke up in the wee hours (as usual) and caught my Dad assembling a bike (for me)!  That’s when I learned that Santa was black, hahaha – I digress!  You see, as a young person your focus for the holidays is all about what you are going to get.  That’s not unusual, that’s childhood.  But there comes a time when your focus changes from what you can get, to what you can give.  When our children were very young we did the thing that all parents want to do.  We went hog-wild on buying presents.  We went wayyyyy overboard!  We carefully constructed the “gift stacks” like I remembered from childhood and gleefully anticipated the joy we would see on their faces.  And wow, did we see it! But here’s the interesting part for me.  I felt (and still feel) more incredible joy over what I can do to make others happy than I’ve ever felt when it was all about me.

Now we are on to something, wouldn’t you say?  One of life’s greatest paradoxes is that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.”  Oh, receiving is awesome for sure (it doesn’t say it is bad to receive and good to give-it says more blessed!)  Blessed means happy.  What you get in life is a blessing, but what you can give produces more blessings. God, who carefully planned human interactions and relationships, built into us (on purpose) a happiness meter that goes off the charts when we take time to give to other people.  And contrary to what the cynics say, giving isn’t about what is in it for me, it’s about what is in it for them (true giving anyway).  I should add that giving doesn’t always mean buying stuff for people either.  Giving is imparting something of yourself for the simple purpose of making someone else happy. Kind words make people happy. Pointing out people’s good qualities makes them happy. Taking time to be a listening, non-judgmental ear for another person encourages their happiness.  In fact, anything you give from your heart, whether it be well received or not, will always benefit your heart.  It is the very essence of being a human being.  Consider the life of Jesus Christ.  He spent his whole life putting others first (his whole life) and yet was able to say that he endured all of the suffering that he went through “for the joy that was set before him.”  

When we were young life was truly all about us, but when we got older we learned (hopefully) that life wasn’t all about us.  The reason so many folks are struggling or depressed or are unhappy or not contented is because they have fallen into the trap called “it’s all about me.”  “I don’t have this or I deserve that or when is it my turn or if I don’t look out for me who will(?)” is really an indicator that we have lost our way and forgotten how life really works.  I mean what motivates a mother or a father to spend their last penny or work themselves to the bone in order to buy their child that XBox or those shoes or send them on that trip?  Love does… which expresses itself through giving.  God so loved that He gave, remember?  So if you really want to experience that joy you see others enjoying, you have to get yourself into that giving mindset.  Yes folks, you have to be willing to put yourself and all of your “stuff” aside for a bit and focus on helping someone else.  I don’t mean on the surface, I mean from your heart.  I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like you will get your needs met this way, but trust me, it works 100% of the time!

So, when you get together with your family this holiday season (or anyone you care for, for that matter) decide right now that instead of focusing on how uncle Joe always smells or how your Mom gets on your last nerve (no, not my Mom she is awesome!) or how your sister is going to hit you up for money, instead decide to focus on what you can do to make that other person’s day a little brighter, a little better, a little more warm than usual.  Just do it!  And before you know it, you will find yourself right smack dab in the middle of that joy you were looking for all along.

How can you maximize your joy during the holidays?  Give! Not till it hurts, but until that other person stops hurting (at least while they are with you)!  You can make that kind of impact and (smile) you should…  I learned a long time ago that helping other people truly gave me the most joy and although I still sometimes fall into it being all about me, whenever I recall that it aint about me, things start changing almost immediately.

I hope your holiday times are the best they have ever been and I hope you remember why…

These are just some holiday good thoughts… 🙂

 

 

Living in the Fear of Judgment…


imagesCA4LXE8FThe annual Thanksgiving Day family party was a big success with one exception…yours truly!  You see there is such a thing as “too much” fun and in my case “too much” Fireball!  As one might expect, too many drinks leads to some rather bizarre behavior, made worse by the advent of Vine videos which, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, allows you to see yourself out of your mind while in your right mind…  SMH oh well!  Those sketchy memories aside (thankfully) and after a couple of days of self-flagellation, I realized that my errors in judgment weren’t my issue as much as my perceptions of other people’s judgment (or perceived judgment) of me…  What must they think of me???

Good question, wouldn’t you agree?  I mean how much time do we really spend worrying about what other people might be thinking about us?  And maybe not without good reason…  We live in a society that thrives (or feeds if you will) on judgment.  We judge people for being overweight; for not being as attractive as someone in the media convinced us they should be; for not having enough money (or having too much money); for the color of their skin; for their ethnicity and on it goes into virtual judgment oblivion.  There are social expectations, relationship expectations, behavior expectations, moral expectations and religious expectations.  And the result?  A world of people controlled and terrified of other people’s judgment.  And maybe worst of all, a multitude of people paralyzed with the thoughts of Almighty God‘s judgment!

So maybe we ought to try to make some sense out of all that judgment.  First, I think if you have lived long enough, you realize that all people have had their moments in the mud and if they haven’t yet, just wait a little bit.  Next, if you’ve lived long enough (again) you have been down the slippery path enough to understand that people, being people, often get tripped up in life and even more often when they least expect it (There but for the grace of God, go I).  And finally, here’s maybe the most scary part of it all.  All of us have a mind that we live inside and as such are completely aware of where our thoughts go at all times.  Oh we may have a fantastic public persona, but we also know the stuff that goes through our private minds.  Yet somehow we try for all we are worth to keep that private part private because after all, God forbid what would happen to us if people knew who we really are!

So, here’s a thought for your noggin – you know who you are inside (which I’m guessing doesn’t really vary that much for most of us) and for that reason alone might want to decide to give up on judgment!  (LOL)  Judgment is a losers game which, while appearing to make you feel a bit superior for a moment, only ends with your own feeble attempt to justify your own insanity by pointing out the insanity of others.  Saying someone is ugly never made you prettier.  Calling someone an idiot won’t add to your IQ.  And, no matter how thin you might get, it will never make up for the insecurity you feel inside.  You see, judgment only serves to turn us into critical Pharisees, who while interacting personally with the Messiah, could not conceive that he was who he said he was because their eyes were blinded to “true love” and instead only saw the flaws they trained themselves to see.  And while I’m at it, God Himself who saw the evil results of judgment sent us a Savior to “once and for all ever set us free” from the potential to be judged!  So, of course there is a better way to live…

The best way to live is devoid of all judgment.  (Maybe give it up for lent -ha)  Just stop doing it.  Does that mean you must excuse bad behavior?  Of course not!  Instead acknowledge the “bad behavior” but decide to love the person behind it.  And, are you deciding to love them based upon your ranking scale concerning the badness of their behavior?  No, unless you are okay with the same ranking scale!  (Haha – side-note, somehow in your own mind your bad won’t be as bad as “their” bad!)  Just let people be people.  Let them bloody their own noses.  They don’t need your lecture, they need your love because their nose is already bleeding!  Why not be that person they know never judges them and in so doing, give them a little slice of heaven while they are still on earth.  Imagine that – heaven is a place people go to because they chose to believe in God’s Savior rather than choosing to believe in the ever sliding scale of good behavior!

You and I don’t ever have to be afraid of people’s judgment!  Oh sure they are going to judge us still, but at the end of the day, it’s what God thinks that matters and He already forgave us for every whacky thing we ever got caught up in!  Yes folks, it’s that big!

So is this about a man feeling bad for being “that guy” at his own house party?  Nah, don’t you believe it!  This is about freedom from the fear and bondage of judgment that runs the whole world.  Shoot, I ain’t scurrrred!  How about you?

Just some good “judgment free” thoughts…