Does Life Really Throw Curveballs?


curveballHave you ever been warned to be ready for what life might throw at you? You suffer some huge disappointment and they say that’s just life, right? “Yeah life really threw me a curveball on that one!” Oh I realize it is just an expression, like saying I’ve got sunshine in my soul, but you have to wonder what might be behind that expression… I mean is there something about life we don’t understand that leads to the occasional off speed pitch being hurled in our direction? Nothing in the creation is haphazard or random, even if it appears to be that way. Everything in nature follows a distinct, well-defined order, and even though that order doesn’t produce straight lines, it is still an intelligent order. So in the midst of that breathtaking order, could life secretly be involved in disorder?

The answer to the question can be found by our understanding of how life came about. For example, if you think life is purely biological and somehow evolved out of nothing, you are likely to be deluged with wicked curveballs that don’t cause strikes but rather bean you in the head. Denying the existence of God and spiritual things doesn’t change their existence anymore than not believing in an as yet undiscovered species denies its existence. It already exists. You just don’t know about it yet. Life in its most basic form is spiritual. The spiritual preceded the physical. As such, the physical always points back to the spiritual and not the other way around. Life is the creative expression of God and He is the architect behind it. The absence of God means the absence of life. But if life is present, so is God. Haha okay before I lose you in my spiritual musings, let me explain it this way. Life as an expression of God’s creativity is not in the business of throwing unusual pitches at you. (Are you happy now, we are back to baseball! ūüôā ) Life’s order is very predictable, although almost infinite in variety. Life isn’t happening to you, you are happening within it. So why do we at times feel like life isn’t cooperating with us or worse is actually trying to hurt us?¬†The answer is found in our understanding of the spiritual realm.

The spiritual realm is composed of two sources. One source, God, is life and light and love. He cannot ever be the opposite no matter what anyone has told you before. He always has been and always will be. (WARNING: DO NOT TRY TO WRAP YOUR MIND AROUND THAT ONE!) The other source is more of a johnny-come-lately. He (it) hasn’t always been around, but in the time he has been around (after choosing to separate from Light) has honed his skills as a pitcher to a magnificent level of expertise. He has learned precisely how humans tend to think and behave and uses what man thinks he knows or doesn’t know against him to produce curveballs that would have earned him the Cy Young award had he been allowed to pitch. In fact, he has done such a fantastic job that you don’t even know he is pitching and worse, blame life instead. Well, I’m here to tell you folks it aint life that is after you! Fortunately, there is way to still get hits no matter what gets thrown at you. That way is found by taking the time to learn about the spiritual.

The first and most important step is in learning who God is and what He will do for you. If your picture of Him is some weird, bearded guy with a large bat (forgive me) waiting to bash you in the head for running out of the baseline, you aren’t going to win in life. If you have imagined He is some nebulous, mysterious being doing random acts of disaster (called acts of God) or inexplicably killing off loved ones; never answering or even hearing your prayers, chances are you are batting .000. You just haven’t done your research yet. If God is truly perfect, He cannot be contradictory. He can’t be light one day and dark the next (as that would make Him partly cloudy-haha). Thus, you owe it to yourself to find out who He really is.

Once you finally start to get it, you’ll discover that life never threw you a curveball, the adversary did! Life was never designed to be fraught with disappointment, heartache and tragedy! The problems came because of decisions that people made (with their sovereign free-will) in choosing to believe what that pseudo Cy Young said over what God actually said. Then lots of people started getting beaned in their heads and still don’t know who is really throwing at them.

So, don’t let that be your life story! For goodness sakes, take some time to learn. If you want to learn it (He) will be right there for you. Shoot, you will get so good that you will know what the next pitch is going to be before it even happens. And, for those times when you didn’t see it coming, God will still be right there to heal you up and get you back out onto the field.

Does life really throw you curveballs? Of course not, but if one comes your way, why not knock it out of the park?

Thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ!

And that pitch is outta here…

Complacency is Not Your Friend…


ComplacentMy wife and I were privileged to spend the weekend with our good friends Bob and La Detra White at their beautiful home in North Decatur, Georgia. We were there to celebrate Bob’s 50th birthday milestone and what a celebration it was! We socialized at the hotel; enjoyed a catered Georgia brunch; were entertained by a fantastic singer with accompaniment in their home; traveled in the deluxe party coach to do some wine tasting and enjoyed a delicious dinner gathering in a private room. And that doesn’t even include the special times we enjoyed with their family and friends who were successful in their own rights. ¬†I remember walking around their incredible home with Bob as he explained the various wood choices they made and the details they chose for the ceilings and walls. Then there was time we spent with La Detra as she explained her consulting business and how she learned to compete and demand the best for herself and her family. And in the midst of all this, I couldn’t help but think to myself, wow – these folks got it going on!

Successful people seem to have one common trait amidst a hundred competing ideals. They refuse to settle for what life begrudgingly offers and choose rather to seek out the best. It’s as if they have learned to discern the dividing lines and limitations people put upon themselves and consciously seek after things beyond those illusionary boundaries. They told La Detra she could never go Harvard and now that same Harvard grad is living the life; a life she chose and not one that was chosen for her! Did it take hard work? Absolutely! Were there hard times? Of course, as anything worth having has a payment required to achieve it. But one thing her success didn’t include was complacency…

You might not have seen it clearly enough yet, but complacency is not your friend. Complacency is marked by words like, “good enough” which in themselves aren’t bad but will never get you to your full potential. I mean have you ever wondered what you might accomplish if you pushed past those imaginary lines and went beyond those self-defined limitations you have put on yourself? What could you really do in this life? Curtis Bunn, published author, and my riding buddy on the party bus told me that it took him seven years to write his first book. Yet he rose above whatever held him back and wrote that first book! Now with a number of books on the market and a publishing contract for more books in hand, he enjoys his own success by refusing complacency and pressing toward things that matter; for his own life that he has chosen for himself.

We all start out in life with a hidden treasure of skills, aptitudes and abilities in our hearts; waiting, asking, begging for expression. And when we were young we heard those urgings distinctly and sought to pursue them. Then, something got in the way of those ideals and we started to hear those promptings less and less. We found out that we could get to “pretty good” quite easily and settled… I mean, after all, we are doing pretty well compared to some people, right? We have our basic needs met, don’t we? Why should we supply more effort if 60-70% got us this far? Why??? Because if 70% got you this far, imagine where you could go if you bumped that effort up to 90%. Imagine what you might bring to the world if you decided to go all in instead of saving something for later? Imagine what you might be able to do if you stopped being afraid to try?

Complacency is, therefore, the great killer of hopes, dreams, ideals. It moves in with stealth like a burglar and takes away your confidence; your passion; your enthusiasm, and does so without you even being aware of it. It convinces you day by day that how you are living is okay. It gets you to rationalize away your God-given talents. I mean who are you to seek so much? What have you done to deserve that life you’ve always imagined? And what does “little-ol” you have to offer? I’m guessing far more than you have even contemplated to this point!

Most folks are waiting for some inspiration. But here’s the funny thing about inspiration; inspiration is waiting on you! Inspiration isn’t something that comes to you by fate when the stars align or when good luck finally turns in your direction. Inspiration arrives when you are ready to receive it; when you have finally decided to do what you know you are capable of doing. And in that moment; that blessed moment, it floods in like a torrent and suddenly the day has no end.

This life is far too short to waste away your days on the couch wondering what you could have been. Why not push yourself out of your comfort zone and see what you can do? Your age isn’t a factor, nor can it be when you have unrealized dreams in your heart. Instead you owe it to yourself and our Great God that gave you those talents to reach beyond yourself and accomplish. Go all in, heart, soul, mind and strength! You can do it; you must do it!

Complacency is not your friend, but success is and she is waiting for you on the other side…

Go get it my friends, it’s waiting for you!

Complacency is Not Your Friend…


ComplacentMy wife and I were privileged to spend the weekend with our good friends Bob and La Detra White at their beautiful home in North Decatur, Georgia. We were there to celebrate Bob’s 50th birthday milestone and what a celebration it was! We socialized at the hotel; enjoyed a catered Georgia brunch; were entertained by a fantastic singer with accompaniment in their home; traveled in the deluxe party coach to do some wine tasting and enjoyed a delicious dinner gathering in a private room. And that doesn’t even include the special times we enjoyed with their family and friends who were successful in their own rights. ¬†I remember walking around their incredible home with Bob as he explained the various wood choices they made and the details they chose for the ceilings and walls. Then there was time we spent with La Detra as she explained her consulting business and how she learned to compete and demand the best for herself and her family. And in the midst of all this, I couldn’t help but think to myself, wow – these folks got it going on!¬†

Successful people seem to have one common trait amidst a hundred competing ideals. They refuse to settle for what life begrudgingly offers and choose rather to seek out the best. It’s as if they have learned to discern the dividing lines and limitations people put upon themselves and consciously seek after things beyond those illusionary boundaries. They told La Detra she could never go Harvard and now that same Harvard grad is living the life; a life she chose and not one that was chosen for her! Did it take hard work? Absolutely! Were there hard times? Of course, as anything worth having has a payment required to achieve it. But one thing her success didn’t include was complacency…

You might not have seen it clearly enough yet, but complacency is not your friend. Complacency is marked by words like, “good enough” which in themselves aren’t bad but will never get you to your full potential. I mean have you ever wondered what you might accomplish if you pushed past those imaginary lines and went beyond those self-defined limitations you have put on yourself? What could you really do in this life? Curtis Dunn, published author, and my riding buddy on the party bus told me that it took him seven years to write his first book. Yet he rose above whatever held him back and wrote that first book! Now with a number of books on the market and a publishing contract for more books in hand, he enjoys his own success by refusing complacency and pressing toward things that matter; for his own life that he has chosen for himself.¬†

We all start out in life with a hidden treasure of skills, aptitudes and abilities in our hearts; waiting, asking, begging for expression. And when we were young we heard those urgings distinctly and sought to pursue them. Then, something got in the way of those ideals and we started to hear those promptings less and less. We found out that we could get to “pretty good” quite easily and settled… I mean, after all, we are doing pretty well compared to some people, right? We have our basic needs met, don’t we? Why should we supply more effort if 60-70% got us this far? Why??? Because if 70% got you this far, imagine where you could go if you bumped that effort up to 90%. Imagine what you might bring to the world if you decided to go all in instead of saving something for later? Imagine what you might be able to do if you stopped being afraid to try?¬†

Complacency is, therefore, the great killer of hopes, dreams, ideals. It moves in with stealth like a burglar and takes away your confidence; your passion; your enthusiasm, and does so without you even being aware of it. It convinces you day by day that how you are living is okay. It gets you to rationalize away your God-given talents. I mean who are you to seek so much? What have you done to deserve that life you’ve always imagined? And what does “little-ol” you have to offer? I’m guessing far more than you have even contemplated to this point!¬†

Most folks are waiting for some inspiration. But here’s the funny thing about inspiration; inspiration is waiting on you! Inspiration isn’t something that comes to you by fate when the stars align or when good luck finally turns in your direction. Inspiration arrives when you are ready to receive it; when you have finally decided to do what you know you are capable of doing. And in that moment; that blessed moment, it floods in like a torrent and suddenly the day has no end.¬†

This life is far too short to waste away your days on the couch wondering what you could have been. Why not push yourself out of your comfort zone and see what you can do? Your age isn’t a factor, nor can it be when you have unrealized dreams in your heart. Instead you owe it to yourself and our Great God that gave you those talents to reach beyond yourself and accomplish. Go all in, heart, soul, mind and strength! You can do it; you must do it!¬†

Complacency is not your friend, but success is and she is waiting for you on the other side…

Go get it my friends, it’s waiting for you!¬†

Take Off That Mask!


imagesI have often mused that underneath our fixed exteriors we are all very similar. We all have insecurities and doubts, with those proclaiming most loudly to the contrary, even more. We all feel embarrassed at times. We’ve all been the brunt of the joke. We’ve all done things we regret. We have hopes and dreams and ideals and visions of ourselves that we have a hard time living up to. We get mad and say things we don’t mean. We zig when we should have zagged! We get anxious; we fear the future; the past; rejection; death and disease; failure; other people’s judgment; God, the devil, life etc. All of those things we work so hard to keep secret; to hide from the world, are what makes us human beings. So, why oh why, do we toil so ardently to present an image of ourselves that isn’t real? How exhausting it is to put on that costume day after day. How maddening is it to laugh at what isn’t funny; to feign a preference for those things we abhor; to keep up appearances…

I know the types of things I say to myself at times and can imagine what you say about yourself! Many things we hurl at ourselves in the quiet chambers of our minds would provoke a fight if you said them to someone else. Yet there we are castigating ourselves for this and berating ourselves for that. Who convinced us that we are all so bad that we needed to pretend we are someone else? What got to us so deeply that we are no longer comfortable in our own skin? What? Who decided that all human beings should behave the same; have the same preferences; say the same thing; look a certain way? Who? I think if you would dare to look ¬†at yourself honestly¬†you would see that something tripped you up; got to you; is messing with your psyche! Something is after you man. Something doesn’t have your best interests at heart!

You can’t blame God for what’s happening, though that seems popular today when we face difficulty or distress. Yeah, some guy at church told you God was angry with you and to escape from God you had to pretend to be something else. Imagine you made a human being; gave it free-will; allowed it to make choices; layered it from head to toe with feelings and sensations; devised a mind to run it all, complete with a million variations of emotion, then incredulously found yourself shocked when it didn’t do everything you designed it to do. ¬†Add to that having foreknowledge or the ability to know what was going to happen before it happened and then still finding yourself reeling with disgust because it made mistakes. Unbelievable, wouldn’t you say? It seems more reasonable that if you had the superior intelligence smart enough to build it, you would also have at least enough common sense to understand it and maybe have compassion towards it given it’s freedom of will to choose and often choose poorly! Ya think?

The reason we’re all making such pains to present that unrealistic , perfect image is because something or someone talked us into believing that the real ‘me’ isn’t good enough; what I really think is of no value; and that my true feelings and thoughts cannot be trusted! That something is your enemy and mine; the one that steals everything that you value; kills everything that you love and destroys that which is most precious to you. And along the way, he’s got you and me walking around pretending to be something we are not. Crazy, I know. Unfair, for sure. Unable to be changed? Definitely not!

So how can we change things around? ¬†How can we get out from behind that silly costume and start living? The simple answer is to take off your mask! Decide to stop agreeing with things you don’t agree with! Take a stand for yourself. Be on your own side even if the whole world is on the other side. Express yourself exactly how you want to express yourself. Don’t you admire people who act without pretense? Doesn’t your heart thrill privately when someone says what they really think, be it unfashionable, politically incorrect or otherwise? That’s honest folks; being honest with yourself. Don’t be scared to show your vulnerability. If someone asks how you are doing, don’t say fine if you’re not fine! If you are afraid say so. Have you ever heard someone say repeatedly that they aren’t afraid of something? If you are a betting man, you can bet they are afraid. People who aren’t afraid have no reason to say it (smile)! So, get off your own back. I mean what chance do you have in life if you’re not even on your own side? When there is a question concerning your goodness, choose you…

The injustices; the pain and suffering in life; the things you fear are what convinced you to put on your mask and be someone else. But you don’t need to comply. You are the wonderful person God made you to be whether you ever see that for yourself or not. Your thoughts and feelings do count. They count for one just like everyone else’s thoughts and feelings count for one. You matter no less than any other person regardless of their lofty titles or accolades.

Let the world see the real you with all of your frailty, insecurity and everything else. Let the genuine you shine forth. Hey, you might be surprised to find out that people like you for who you really are!

Mr. or Ms. Human, take off that mask!

Just some good thoughts…

Dead Battery? Jump Start Your Life!


iphone-battery-dead-2Nowadays it’s all about having enough energy. There are energy drinks, energy shots and 5 Hour Energy available at all of¬†your neighborhood 7 -Elevens! The promise of giving you more energy is a billion dollar business. So that naturally begs the question, why are we all so dang tired? I mean really? What happens throughout a day that is sucking all of the life out of us? As you might have guessed, I have a theory…

Imagine that on the inside of your body, instead of a heart, you have a large battery. That battery gets automatically charged for the start of every day; fully green end to end. It doesn’t matter how much sleep you got; if the sun is out or not, it’s just charged up and ready to go. Add to that, it has enough energy to do everything you need to accomplish today, no matter how arduous. Throughout the day it uses energy according to whatever apps you have operating in the system of your mind, some in the forefront, some in the background. When the battery is green you feel alive and up to any challenges. You’ve got ideas, solutions, insights and vigor. When the battery starts to turn yellow you feel depleted and even the smallest things annoy you. You’ve got no patience; no ideas; no energy to think a situation through. Finally, when the battery flashes red you are completely out of gas. You reach for an energy drink or choose perhaps to go to bed early. “Man, eff this day!”

The apps that you play on your system are your thoughts. Some of those thoughts apply to your immediate situation while others are just sort of back there using up valuable power. When the thoughts you entertain are good, useful, purposeful and positive, your battery life glows green. But, when your thoughts are negative, fearful, anxious, angry, critical and frustrated, your battery level quickly depletes and beckons you to buy that 5 Hour Energy drink.

Sadly, many people fail to make the connection between the thoughts they are thinking and their energy level. Rotten thoughts eat away like a corrosive chews on your battery cables. Fearful thoughts will crash your system by 10:00 a.m. Uncontrolled thoughts, which almost always end up as negative thoughts, in this crazy world we live in, suck your energy right out of you. Dale Carnegie used to say that hard work never made a man tired. What makes a man tired is the thoughts he is entertaining while he works.

Have you ever watched an episode of The Duggers? ¬†Sure they are corny as hell; have unusual hairdos and won’t even wear shorts for a 5K! But, haven’t you felt the slightest bit intrigued about how they interact with the world? They are just so darn pleasant and positive, and if you get past how much they don’t seem to fit in our world, you have to admit there is somewhat of an appeal to them. They’re just happy and lighthearted, expecting the best no matter what they are facing. Why else would so many people watch a country family with way too many kids living in Arkansas? ¬†LOL

Seriously though, those Duggers are on to something! They’ve learned, thanks to their beliefs, that there is certain way that people were designed to act, which is ever preceded by their thoughts. Thinking good of people and doing good to people is how God intended for people to behave and behaving in that way guarantees a battery glowing green no matter what is going on. (Duh…God also made your battery!) On the converse, spitting out criticism; judging and hating everybody, which is also always preceded by thoughts, saps vitality like an embalmer sucks the blood out of dead bodies. And, dead minds don’t just show up via active evil, they also come about by entertaining thoughts of fear and worry and dread. Hey, let’s be honest okay? No-one wants a terminal disease; a tragic car accident; a complete loss of financial resources; something bad to happen to their child etc., etc. But all that fear you are incubating and nourishing day by day does nothing to make those things not happen; in fact, if you can bear it, actually encourage those things to happen! And along the way, in ignorance, we are dragging around our almost dead batteries (minds) looking for the next quick fix or outlet to plug into.

So, here’s a reality check! When you find yourself dragging around from thing to thing, despondent, depressed and looking for 7 Elevens, stop looking without and instead look within, not for the answers, but for your thoughts. What apps are playing in the foreground and in the background? Get out your app killer and change your mind. How you interact with the world does matter! That harmless game of pointing out what is wrong with everyone else is not a game, it’s an energy killer. Those angry words you shouted at the guy on the freeway who foolishly didn’t know the whole highway belonged to you and dared to drive slower than your appointed acceptable speed, didn’t injure him, they injured you! Those hurt feelings and lack of forgiveness you have been carrying around for 25 years about things that no longer exist, except in your memory, aren’t necessary. They are a background app sucking up all of your life juice!

Am I advocating a strict religious life where everything you do or think might be a sin? Of course not! (blahhhh!) I’m advocating love and kindness and forgiveness to yourself first and then onto everyone else. Actively looking for ways to bless people and make them happy is equal to carrying around a perpetual battery charger. And when your battery is glowing green, life takes on an effortless flow that you will never be disappointed with.

We all get tired folks, but there’s a big difference between tired and worn out… Stop at 7 Eleven if you must, but make sure you are really good to that person serving you! ¬†That will do far more for you than any 5 Hour Energy drink!

Just some fully charged, good thoughts…

 

How to be Happy…Ending the Incessant Focus on Yourself!


me-me-me-md1We are all on a quest to be happy, right? Happiness is the one of the most talked about topics in life and for good reason. We all want it so very badly! Yet strangely, pursuing happiness as your object of focus tends to lead away from and not to… happiness. Happiness is defined as an emotional state characterized by varying pleasant emotions. Happiness is something we experience. We can certainly choose to be happy and in so choosing greatly increase our odds of being happy. But sometimes we sort of get it wrong. We start looking for it and while we are waiting for it we realize we aren’t experiencing it. So we try a little harder to get it and experience it less and less. Hmmm what’s wrong with that picture? What’s wrong is our subject of focus!

Life is supposed to be lived full on. Full on means being fully invested in whatever is going on at the present moment. “Clear eyes, full heart!” When we become totally invested in the present moment something interesting and wonderful happens. We experience happiness! Okay, so imagine yourself in this scenario. You have a very busy day at work. Many things are clamoring for your attention and you have important things to accomplish. So you make up your mind to focus on the work at hand and give yourself fully to it. You are locked in man! Suddenly you realize, “holy smokes” it’s 5:15 p.m., I’m supposed to be off now. So you pack up shop and head home. And while you are driving home it dawns on you that you feel pretty dang good. You feel satisfied and happy! How did that happen? You weren’t even focused on happiness and there it came out of nowhere. The secret? Full hearted focus on what you were doing at the moment! Hmmm…

No what about the converse? You are sitting on your couch thinking about yourself. Why am I so unhappy? I mean what is the matter with me? I used to be happy and now I’m not. Why??? Maybe it’s my job or my wife or the weather or the economy or the neighborhood I live in or that all my friends on Facebook sure seem so happy… Maybe I should go on a diet? I am getting pretty fat, after all. I sure wish I was slim like such and such. I have no discipline. Maybe I just need to exercise more. And look at my clothes. I used to have nice clothes. I mean I have really let myself slip. What is wrong with meeeeeeee? The clue to your unhappiness is found in that one little word, “ME.” Me, me, me… That incessant focus on yourself is your problem! You have temporarily stopped living your life and sat down to examine it. And like anything that man does, it always leads to an acknowledgment of imperfection. You’ve been tricked out of living an experiencing and exchanged it for analyzing; as if that type of analysis ever led to anything good!

Happiness, remember, is something we experience. You don’t will it into existence! Give it try…I’ll wait! No, instead what you need to do, what we all need to do, is put our focus 100% into the present moment. Focused thought, wholehearted thought, is happy thought. Otherwise your thoughts become divided and divided thoughts are anxiety. Anxiety is literally trying to think two thoughts at once. Half in the moment, half in your thoughts. Anxiety! Focusing on “me, me, me” is only going to lead to feeling anxious and won’t get you to what you are really after. God tells us to put our whole heart into things. Maybe He knows a thing or two about happiness, huh?

Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men… Colossians 3:23 AMP

That, my friends is the answer to what ails you! One of the great oxymorons of life is that the more you focus on making yourself happy, the less happy you will be. But, the more you focus on others and what the moment you are in calls for, the happier you become. Try it out for yourself. Instead of trying to answer that age-old question, give yourself completely to whatever it is you are doing (or supposed to be doing) right now. Get your mind off of yourself and onto the moment you are in. Fully, completely, unequivocally!

The world we live in is constantly encouraging us to think about ourselves and to be consumed with ourselves. But, it is a trick! It won’t lead you to where you want to go. Instead it leads to antidepressants and other medication that tries to help you “feel” good. Why not decide to stop that incessant focus on yourself and experience the life you have been waiting for all along? That glorious, happy life is right there waiting for you; waiting for you to change your focus.

Life aint all about me, well, a happy life anyway!

Just some good thoughts…