Are You Blessed?


blessedlifeI have been feeling very blessed lately, so I thought it deserved some blog action. ‘Blessed’ is one of those words that means a lot of things to a lot of people. There’s the traditional ‘blessed’ which usually refers to factors in life that almost everyone experiences like, “I got up today” or “I have a home to live in” or “I’m alive.” Call me cynical but it seems like folks who utilize the term in this way usually don’t seem very blessed. Oh sure they are alive and living in a home, but not exactly blessed! Then there’s the blessed that is always associated with doing the right thing and since folks seldom always do the right thing…well, you get the point. Finally there is the ‘blessed’ that I believe aligns more closely with the biblical definition which refers to good ol’ fashioned happiness and contentment. It’s that inner sense that everything is going to be okay and if anything might not be okay, God is going to fix that in a hurry. It’s a quiet confidence; an internal knowing, joyfully complete with a full anticipation of an awesome tomorrow! That is what it means to be blessed and that’s the only kind of ‘blessed’ I want to talk about…

Now, you might have thought the title of this blog was a setup whereby I was going to point out how ‘un-blessed’ you are and prescribe the “way’ to get blessed according to me. Nah, not so much. Instead I want to explain what I have been doing different lately that seems to have led to all these blessings I am experiencing right now. That’s not to say you aren’t doing these things, but instead simply a happy guy wanting to share that happiness with others.

Let’s start by debunking a few myths. While it is marvelous to be alive and have some food and maybe a place to live, that’s not exactly blessed. Something to be thankful for? Sure! But being alive is something we sort of had no choice in, right? Lots of good-hearted people are plugging away day by day with absolutely nothing to look forward to. Life was never intended to be a perpetual chore to be survived. Nor was life supposed to be a daily struggle for existence and a few shekels. We have all (myself included) had periods where we felt down and lackluster and felt like tomorrow would probably be just like today was (blah blah). There’s no criticism in that. The criticism would come from acquiescing to that life and not getting serious about solving that puzzle.

Next, and probably the most perplexing myth is feeling like there is a never-ending list of things we have to do to perfect ourselves before that blessed day comes when we finally get what we want or get to fulfill our dreams. There is no hamster wheel like that one! The harder you try to be ‘good’ the more you fail at being good or the more you realize how much better you need to be in order to be considered good. Trust me on this one, your life is going to seriously suck if you get caught in that trap! Add to that the outrageous myth that purports that God will only bless you if you are good. You’ll notice that in that scenario the one judging your goodness is usually some other person/leader who most likely isn’t even doing the things he is asking you to do! Don’t get me started! Follow that logic for a minute here. If God only blesses you or protects you when you are good, you’re going to spend a lot of time not being blessed or protected. That is unless you have deluded yourself into thinking you can earn your way into God’s good graces. Egads… It’s myth folks!

God, as your real source of blessedness (happiness), does not bless you because of how good OR how bad you are. He blesses you when you do one thing and one thing only ~ believe. Therein lies the key to my recent blessing trail. I finally stopped cataloging my faults and shortcomings and stopped focusing on what I oughta do; shoulda done or shouldn’t have done and moved my focus back on to the source of all my goodness ~ God! I got my head back into God’s Word, to make myself good? Heck no! To be reminded about what it is that I should really be believing. Did you know that the purpose of God’s Word is to give you right doctrine (how to believe rightly) and reproof (how to get back to believing rightly) and correction (how to get unstuck from habitual wrong believing and get back to believing rightly)! Your life is truly all about what you are believing about yourself; your life; God and the world. It’s so easy to get off track (believing wrongly) and to stay off course absent any true doctrine. But, once you start believing again you will find that all the wrongs become right and life returns to that sweetness you (hopefully) once knew.

So what happened to me? I didn’t get a new job or a new car. I didn’t move into a new house. I didn’t come into a pile of money or receive some tremendous award for human service. Nah… I got my head back on the right track. By becoming sinless?  LOL well those of you who know me would dispute that one! Instead, I remembered that in order to receive anything from God, I had to believe and believing is easy once you learn (or relearn) the right things to believe!

Am I blessed? I think you know the answer to that one!

Living the blessed life…

Uncomplicate Yourself!


002_bibliography_pfalI remember many years ago; 1982 to be exact, taking a class called, “Power For Abundant Living.” For me (and many others) it was just the greatest class in the whole world! In that class I learned the great simplicity of a life with God and how to believe to get the things I wanted for my life. But, as the years waned on, I began to complicate what was once uncomplicated. I added (or maybe I should say, learned to add) conditions and rules and expectations. Instead of cleaving to the truth that I could believe God for anything I needed, I began to doubt what I had learned and as a result began to fall prey to fear. And this, despite my thorough understanding from the class that fear was also believing, negative believing, which always led to failure and difficulty in some capacity. Instead of simply accepting who God said I was, I allowed others to define me according to my behavior which seldom was good enough. The more I worked to get good enough to receive from God, the further I got from Him and the less I actually believed for anything. Instead I accepted that my notions of tremendous freedom and liberty were really just notions and that the way to get the good things in life was to live a difficult existence where everything I did was under scrutiny. Being a guy that always loathed religion, I somehow became religious and the judgment others were leveling on me, I leveled on everyone else. So where exactly did I go wrong?

I went wrong by allowing the truth of the Word to become cloudy in my mind and instead started relying on others to define the rules of the game. And here’s a newsflash for you, once you let other people start defining who you are what you can and cannot do, you slide down that slope at an alarming rate! Sadly, however, you become unaware that you are sliding down that greasy path and start thinking just like everyone else does. You conclude that fear is just a part of life. I mean look around, who isn’t afraid? What you don’t realize is that you cannot believe positively and have fear at the same time. And that, my friends, sums up most people’s condition today.

No matter what people may have told you before, God is minutely interested in your happiness and well-being. It’s not, as some people foolishly say, selfish to pray for yourself or to pray to get your own needs met. God is certainly not too busy with world events to hear your requests either. Do you have any kids? Well I’m guessing that as a parent you are pretty dang concerned about your children getting their needs met, right? Well, God loves them even more than you do! The trouble is that God will not overstep your freedom of will. In order to get your prayers answered you have to believe. If you don’t believe what He promised or have fear involved, you are NOT going to get your prayers answered. Praying and praying and wishing won’t get the job done. Only believing, really believing is going to do it. Here’s a quote from that pretty, little orange book.

“We are what we are today because of our believing. We will be tomorrow where our believing takes us. No one ever rises beyond what he believes and no one can believe more than what he understands. We believe what we believe because of what we have been taught. We think the way we think because of the way we have been led.” ~ Dr. VPW (PFAL)

Your life, my life is a product of what we believe. We can start off fantastically well, then digress into fear and defeat, but the basis of it all is the things we believe good and bad, and the things we have been taught! We can learn to expect the best and we can learn to fear the worst. We can become educated about the reality of the life God intended for us or we can be educated about the complexity of life with God and eat crap for years! Oh me? Yeah, I’m a believing guy that ended up eating a lot of crap. But, praise the Lord, I’m finally starting to see with my spiritual eyes again and remembering the simplicity and beauty of life with God.

Your life is so intricately connected to the things you believe, that you really owe it to yourself to learn what and how to believe. Don’t believe for a second that believing is tied to someone else’s definition of morality. God doesn’t answer your prayers because you are so good, He answers them when you believe. In fact, God has so arranged life that anyone who truly believes, receives, regardless of their religious or non-religious background. The folks you observe enjoying success have believed for it and the people you see perpetually struggling are afraid (not unrighteous before God…just afraid!).

Don’t get it twisted people, life is not complicated. Error is complicated! Religious observances are complicated. The more than abundant life God promised in His Word is there for the taking, if you can simply believe!

I believe (again). Won’t you?

Just some good thoughts…

Focus on Your Good Bits…


fokusIf you are like me and I prefer to assume you are because then I will like you more :-), you have learned to focus on those few areas that you need to improve rather than all of the things that make you awesome! It’s sort of like a sickness isn’t it? You spend 16 of your waking hours doing what you are supposed to do and 5 minutes saying something you shouldn’t have said and then spending another hour ruminating on why you said it and that you really shouldn’t have said it. Sound familiar? Wouldn’t it seem reasonable to applaud yourself for 16 hours of solid effort and to pay little attention to your one mistake? Indeed!

The world we live in, rife with media input, has done a masterful job of tricking you and me into obsessing over anything that may hint at imperfection. “My belly is too fat!” which discounts  the fact that the ideal “belly” belongs to a 16-year-old with the metabolism of a racehorse. Or my hair or my eyes or my feet are too large or my cankels etc., etc. Whether it be physical imperfections (assuming there is “physical perfection”) or problems with our character or a propensity to sin (so-called) or just plain ol’ ability to actually make mistakes, we have universally bought into a gigantic scheme that gets us to focus on what’s wrong with us instead of focusing on our good bits…

So you might be asking, why does it even matter? Well, it matters because incessant focus on what is wrong with you leads to one perpetually long, unhappy existence. “I’m no good” “I’m not okay” “Why can’t I be like such and such” all presume a condition that may not actually exist. What if you are very, very similar to most human beings? What if the things you think and say and do are remarkably like the things most people think and say and do? What if, huh? What if that hour you just wasted obsessing over the “dumb thing” you said at the staff meeting was forgotten by everyone at the staff meeting 5 minutes after it ended? Pointless me thinks…

But here is another thing to consider that trumps even a wasted unhappy life. If it’s true that what you focus on expands, then focusing on what is wrong can only lead to more and more of “what is wrong!”  Chew on that for a moment… If, unbeknownst to you, the things you focus on in life are conspiring to come your way, then it seems focusing on what you don’t like can only produce more and more of “what you don’t like.” Are you beginning to see the large-scale scheme I was referring to earlier? Let’s say you are a pretty good person, according to your own estimates, but you have a few weaknesses. So you spend inordinate amounts of time working on your weaknesses. Sure, it seems noble because you are, after all, working on them. But, here’s a thought, have you ever known a successful person that spends more time working on their weaknesses than what they are good at, who remains successful? Probably not, right? Successful people, while fully aware of their weaknesses, choose rather to focus on the things in which they excel. Obsessing over weakness serves only to exemplify weakness. How many good-hearted people have you met that can’t go 5 minutes into the conversation without telling you something that is “bad” about themselves? Or conversely, how many people have you met that even dare to mention something they are good at? World-wide sickness, my friends.

A wise man named Eric taught me long ago in a conversation about child rearing, that the way to get your child past their problems is by highlighting the things they do well! Think about that for a moment. Your child is sitting there quietly watching TV and you don’t say a word, but as soon as they get rambunctious, you want to give them a lecture, thereby reinforcing the behavior you don’t like!  What works for children works for adults, except adults no longer have their parents to guide them in the way in which they should go.

So the solution, weary travelers is to decide to stop focusing on what is wrong with you. The Good Lord, who knows everything, is well aware of your imperfections and loves you just the same and always will! He’s not unhappy with you, so you owe it to yourself to follow suit. Focus on the best parts of yourself. Focus on the good things you have in your life. Focus on the miracle that is your life and in so doing can begin to appreciate what you do have and not obsess on what you don’t have.

If you will become determined to focus on the good, then you will find the good has actually been pursuing you all along. Let that good catch up to you by being so grateful for the life you already have.  And for an added bonus, try focusing on the good in other people as well. Shoot, you may just find yourself surrounded by a lot of wonderful people.

Focus on your good bits!

Just some good thoughts…

Loose Threads…


Quotation-Marilyn-Brant-day-rest-Meetville-Quotes-143182You know what you need to do with those loose threads, right? Snip ’em, burn em’, yank ’em, do something, just don’t leave them there dangling, annoying you all day. Funny how something so small and insignificant can make such an impact on your mind. Similarly, loose thoughts; thoughts that we sort of let hang around, dangling, uninvited yet apparent, impact our lives in a profound way. We often find ourselves out-of-sorts, anxious or restless with no earthly idea why. We know we don’t feel peaceful, satisfied or assured, but the cause escapes us. And to make matters worse, we start looking for the cause in our surroundings or in our spouse, job, house etc. But in so doing, we miss the mark by a hundred miles. The real cause is likely a loose thought or number of loose thoughts we failed to snip, burn or yank out.

Assuming you’re not drunk, it’s likely you are somewhat aware of the thoughts going through your mind. I mean you are the one doing the thinking after all. And, for a thought to have any type of impact on you it has to have registered at some level. So, it’s not so much what you thought but rather what you did or failed to do with those thoughts. Intentional living is all about doing something with those rogue thoughts. Amazingly, three or four unchecked vagrant thoughts can alter your mind and your mood in a subtle yet powerful way. Imagine you just woke up and a number of ill-defined thoughts are running through your mind. Your throat has been sore lately and since you smoke cigarettes it’s likely to be throat cancer. I mean you saw that Terri lady talking through that talk box. Randomly leading to, “It’s good that we have the money to make our patio an awesome place and wow, once all the flowers and bushes are inside the curbing it will be a showplace. But, it won’t matter much because shortly after you start inviting people over to enjoy it, you will be dead.” Followed by, “Things have been going very well lately. It’s shame that such a tragedy is coming!” As strange as this sounds, this was me yesterday morning. When I finally got up I was irritated. I drove to work talking to God about why I “always” seemed to feel restless and pondering why I couldn’t relax. I arrived at work still melancholy, still restless and wondering if something at work was bringing me down. And I began to work. Several hours later, while taking a mental break, it hit me like lighting a candle in a dark room. “Remember this morning Tony? You pretty much assigned yourself a death sentence. Who is happy and relaxed if they think they are going to die soon?” Ahhhhh, loose thought, unsnipped! So, I snipped that mutha******* with some good thoughts (that always involve God)!

As incredible as it sounds, it really is that simple. But, when your living the unsatisfied life, it never seems that way. Some folks have been victim to their own unchecked thoughts a lifetime. And worse, some will even argue adamantly that “we don’t need no thought control!” Well, you do need thought control my friend, at least enough control to kick out the occasional intruder. You do realize that just because you thought something doesn’t make it true right? Thoughts, even incredibly believable, strong thoughts are still just thoughts. And when those thoughts are against your best interests; your happiness, they must always be annulled. Failure to check them; failure to address them leads to stolen days and ultimately stolen lives. It’s that serious and it matters that much.

I think, if you are honest with yourself, you will recognize that whenever you let your thoughts “run wild,” or have one of those days when you take a mental vacation, you are never the better off for it. Ever have a weekend where you had absolutely nothing to do and did absolutely nothing? You know that a weekend like that was stressful at best. It’s not that you needed to be busy or overloaded with activity, but rather that you still needed to pay attention to your thoughts and still needed to check them if needed. Ha…you thought you were just feeling bad for being lazy. Lazy in activity maybe, but lazy in watching your thoughts, that’s what got you!

All of us, no matter what has happened in the past; no matter how we thought and what we let go and didn’t let go, can only live in the time period called, now! Now is always all we have folks. So, why not decide right now to pay better attention to those troubling thoughts. Decide that when you are feeling bad, no matter how that shows up, you will take the time to track down those rogue thoughts and handle them as the lies they always were! Your life; your day to day existence is worth that my friends. Contrary to the philosophers you don’t have to give up your happiness for even one minute. Life isn’t full of ups and downs, it’s full of thoughts, checked and unchecked.

Chickety check yourself before you wreck yourself!

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

Decide Already…


2441There is a great conundrum in life that holds you back from being the person you would really like to be. You have these wishes; these dreams for yourself that you fondly imagine, but you are waiting for something to happen in order to bring them to pass. In short you are waiting, waiting, waiting. You’re waiting for the “right” time; the “right” circumstances; the “right” situation. As for me, I fancy myself as a writer. I mean I love to write, right? But finding the “right” time to write, I can’t get right!  Right? Or, I’m waiting for some inspiration or good feelings or some passion. But here’s the thing, inspiration doesn’t start until I decide to write, whether the time is right or not. (Okay, okay I’ll get off the write/right pun…) So…Life is like that my friends. You are waiting on life to happen to you and life is waiting on you to happen to it! You are waiting to finally decide and life is waiting for your final decision. Oh the conundrum!

Yeah I totally get where you are coming from. You want to decide on something, a direction; a future; an end to “that thing,” but you feel like there’s a bunch of stuff to line up before you can decide. Therein lies hidden the catch. The starting point for making anything happen is the decision. The feelings come after the decision and never before! Again, because you have to get this point, the starting point for anything is the decision! You decide fully and the feelings, the inspiration, the desire, all follow in accordance with your decision. So you muse, “Well, how come you call yourself a writer and have already decided you are, yet struggle finding/making time to write?” The simple answer? I really want to be a writer; really love writing; honestly believe I can write, yet haven’t fully decided I’m going to do it yet!  LOL Yes I’m that honest… You see, a fully resolved decision has no plan B, no turn back point! Procrastinating, hoping, wishing, waiting all point towards an un-finalized decision. Make the decision!

You can change, revolutionize, or drastically alter any aspect of your life from your health status to your personal prosperity simply by making an informed, serious, fully resolved decision. Your job isn’t to worry about how it is going to happen or when or where and in what form! Your job is simply to decide. The details of your desire are preceded by your decision. Decision comes first! Okay, let’s just say you are full of fear. It’s easy to be that way because not only is the world a very scary place, but the media does a supreme job of pointing out all possible dangers from what you eat to where you live to even the air you are breathing. Before you realize it you can become afraid of your own shadow. “Frit to death and done note” according to the wisdom of my British Mum. You find yourself living in fear most of every day. You can’t relax. You’re restless and anxious. You live in the perpetual fear of WHEN the other shoe is going to drop with disaster on its heel! (that was funny!) You don’t like the fear. You wish you could stop it and get over it once and for all. And, you can by deciding. Decide by God that you are sick and tired of being afraid and running from what might happen and just acquiesce in the idea that you will deal with “it” when/if “it” comes! And, if you will truly resolve yourself to the idea, you will find that life is ever waiting and conspiring with you to bring it to pass. No fear. It works this way with anything you want to do; want to stop doing etc., etc. For real!

You don’t believe me? Okay, find someone tomorrow and ask them if they could do anything in the world they wanted to do, what would they do? Now, I don’t mean play in the NBA if they are 50…LOL I mean anything they would do “today” if they could. Listen carefully to their answer. Then ask, why don’t you do that now? Then get comfortable because you are going to be there awhile listening to all of the reasons they have to wait; get more money; finish their schooling etc. Notice if you hear any indicator that they have already decided fully and completely. Then come back and read this blog with an increased vigor. The truth about this awesome life you and I are privileged to live is that we can change anything in it if we will only decide to do so.

If your life isn’t turning out the way you planned (and whose does?) then get quiet, do some serious thinking and make some real decisions. Your good life is still waiting on you!

1. Decision

2. Desire

3. Details

4. Deliverance!

Just some good thoughts…