The Never Ending Diet Metaphor for Life…


btn-self-mastery-trainingI just gawked at one of those celebrity articles featuring how “hot” certain actors were back in the day and then ‘look at them now.’ As I peered curiously at visions of youth lost and it’s companion weight gain, I felt sort of sad. Not sad because I now face both of those intruders, but rather in light of our (1st world) societal expectations about how we ought to look. I suppose it’s a cruelty that comes with getting older as youth requires little to no discipline at all. But the more pervasive cruelty is found in how we begin to view ourselves. And because of the pressure we feel to “look” a certain way, we either partake in the endless diet or succumb to the weight making us less and less recognizable as the years roll by. This, my friends, is a metaphor for life.

I think if we’re honest, we want to lose weight because we want to look good. We want to feel good. We want things to work like they used to work. In short, we want to be young again. But was the time of our youth really that fantastic? We were either awkward or nervous or shy. We were besieged with self-doubt. When we actually dared to give it thought, we wondered what we would do for a living and when we had to “settle down.” We lived for the day when we had it all and could do whatever we wanted. Sure we always looked good in a bathing suit, but inside it wasn’t all that swell .

Fast forward 30 years and many of those questions have all been answered for us. We may still be awkward, but we’re too tired to give a shit. We’re more sure than we ever were before. But, are we so sure? Do we know what we think we know or have we just succumbed to the game? Then, after our surrender we started getting fat; not only in our bathing suits but more importantly in our minds. We started just letting stuff go. We figured that if we couldn’t have it all like we dreamed in times past, the least we could do was eat some tasty foods, drink some wine and veg out on the couch. We now have the resources to gorge ourselves night and day and the damn, quick fix, unhealthy foods seem to taste the best!

In our youth we had a cosmic pass. We didn’t have responsibilities because we weren’t yet capable of responsibilities. Mom and Dad took care of that. Our job was just to communicate our needs and find the fun. Someone else took care of the hard parts. But, the grand design of things was that as we learned and grew we were supposed to transfer that responsibility on to God. The cycle was supposed to continue. God promised to meet our every need and we were supposed to find the fun. Sure we had work to do but it was no different from the requirement to mow the lawn. But, because we didn’t know that we took it all upon ourselves and life started to be a real drag. We just got so tired. And to add insult to injury we started gaining weight while simultaneously watching our bodies start to droop. Our selfies sucked because we always forgot to wake up our tired faces. (smile)

One day it dawned us that we look nothing like we used to look. The ever angular face from our younger years suddenly became rounded and our chin began to double itself. We grew bellies and man boobs. We peered into the mirror and saw deep wrinkles from years of scowling and frowning. But somewhere in there hiding is that kid, full of youthful beauty and plans and dreams and hope. We recognize that we’ve done it to ourselves. Our complacency and fatigue have led to a lack of control. We just let things go. And beyond that we failed to let go of the things we needed to let go of which explains that look on our faces.

Momentarily awakened, we get back on the endless diet. We decide to take charge of ourselves once again. We begin to think about what we are thinking about and reign ourselves in. And it feels good. Controlling ourselves feels damn good and the side benefit is that we start to lose weight. But, life marches on and we start to succumb to the same bad habits that put us there in the first place and so we either begin a new diet or get back on track with our existing diet. That frustrating yet simple, oft-repeated process, is a metaphor for life. We adults are supposed to control ourselves. Mom and Dad aren’t around to deny us the 4th cookie. In fact, they aren’t around to stop us from doing anything that brings us harm. We’re supposed to do it ourselves with God’s help.

So how can this age-old yo-yo process represent life? Those inner urgings; that persistent inkling that we’ve let something go; the dissatisfaction we feel inside is there because we haven’t yet learned the lesson. Life isn’t about looking good in a bikini, it’s about gaining mastery over our biggest opponent, ourselves! It’s not something we do for a short period of time to reach a destination. It’s someone we become from faithful effort to get up, show up and win. We’ve all surrendered and given in at times, sometimes for years… We’ve all succumbed to the lure of the quick fix and instant success. But neither of those ends of the spectrum represent real life. Real, satisfied, fulfilled life comes from gaining mastery over ourselves. Success is found in a million little choices adding up to a blessed life. Instead of being frustrated with ourselves and being critical of ourselves we need to uncover that happy kid inside and make the daily decision to better ourselves, be patient with ourselves and finally recover ourselves. Instead of dismissing our private thoughts as foolish or simple, we must listen to what they’re telling us and take the necessary action. Oh, how grand we feel when we finally take some action!

When I look at myself in the mirror, I see my furrowed brow, my thinning hair and that belly bulge. I see how much that guy has changed over the years. But, I also see, deeply carved in the sides of my eyes, etched lines that came from a hundred thousand smiles. I see eyes that have dimmed somewhat over time, but still carry all of the love, compassion and care that can only come from a lifetime of experiences. No-one is going to put me on a magazine cover anymore, but they will listen to what I have to say! Only time and experience can get you to that place, and this life exists for you to gain mastery in the journey.

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Hard Heart is a Hard Life…


image11Every problem you’ve ever had has a root cause. The root cause is the number one contributor to the effects you are experiencing. Yet, so often the negative things we are trying to escape come from a cause we have yet to discover. We don’t find the true cause because it’s hidden from view and for that reason continues to control our lives. So we need to become serious about locating the cause to live the happy life we have imagined.

Your heart, the innermost part of your mind, is where your beliefs reside. Your beliefs, positive or negative, produce the circumstances and effects in your life. This is why God’s Word says, “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it come the issues of your life!” Your issues are your results. And if you’re like most people, you’ve got issues (smile)! Your heart, contrary to public opinion, is simply made up of your most predominant thoughts. Change your thoughts, change your heart, change your life. Can you see the futility involved with waiting for circumstance to change before you change your thoughts? You are producing an effect internally then waiting for an external event to change it.

Your heart, in addition to being the innermost part of your mind, is very sensitive. It can be damaged quite easily. When it gets damaged, the human reaction is to build a wall around it. You build a wall because you are trying to protect yourself. You have pain and you want the pain to stop. I get it. But, ironically, building a wall around it produces just the opposite effect to what you are seeking. That sensitivity is where true life is found. A sensitive heart is not a weak thing, it is a great treasure. A sensitive heart is able to feel even the most minute change and is thus able to accurately discern truth from error. A sensitive heart is God’s domain and where His abounding love can be found.

When you get caught up in error and wrong it has a deleterious effect on your heart. The most grand illusion ever played on mankind is the secret, surreptitious effect that wrong has on your heart. The adversary knows this very well and as such seeks to get you and I over into left field where the hidden damage can occur! Sometimes things that feel good can end up not feeling so good, if you know what I mean. Error, at its base, hardens your heart. You don’t feel it like you don’t know a thief has robbed you until it is too late. And to add insult to injury, in your hardened state you have less and less opportunity to recognize that something has gone wrong. You can tell that your heart has been hardened by how you feel about life. You’ll have less happiness, less fulfillment in the joy of living. Things won’t seem to matter anymore and your existence will become increasingly cloudy. How many people do you know that live this way? Maybe you have been living this way! You just cannot seem to find any love, any joy anymore. That is the tell-tale sign of a hardened heart. You didn’t start that way and you sure as hell don’t have to stay that way!

Fear is perhaps the number one source of error that causes your heart to become callous. Fear is painful and as such again, you want your pain to go away. So, you opt for numb over pain much like taking a percocet. In your numb haze you don’t feel any pain, but you don’t feel anything else either. And a life minus feelings is not a life. Hurt people tend to hurt other people and so the cycle continues. We need to get back to a sensitive heart, like the one we had when we were children. No wonder Jesus taught to believe with the heart of a child!

In order to successfully get back to a sensitive heart, you’re going to need God’s help. God looks on your heart and knows your heart. God sees what you and I cannot see! God knows exactly what ‘loony tunes’ thoughts you have been entertaining and how to repair the damage. There are things that God exhorts us not to do, not because He seeks to control our lives, but because He understands the negative effects on our hearts and lives. In love, He tells us to get rid of anger; to eliminate fear; to not allow bitterness to take root in our lives. He instructs us to be kind, loving and tender-hearted. Kindness, love and tenderheartedness start first in our thought lives before they are played out in our reality. So, in order to find your healing, you need to open your heart. Open your heart to God in complete, unabashed honesty. I can assure you that God isn’t freaked out by the insane things you’ve done because He sees through your sin and error for what it really is; a heart that’s been misguided and damaged and hurt. He will help you and heal you, with the only requirement being a willingness on your part. Open your heart!

You know deep down in your heart that you want to share your love and goodness with other people. You long to show them the real you without reservation or fear. You know there is a way you want to live and have been aching to live that way for many years. So make the decision to live that way! Get rid of your fear of rejection and ridicule and let your true heart out. Be sensitive and warm. Be honest with yourself and with others. Love in your words and in your deeds. Love even the unloveable knowing that the unloveable are only so because their hearts have been hardened. Be a beacon of light in a dark world full of many, many broken hearts.

The root cause of your misery is your hardened heart. Make the decision to have a tender heart for from it proceeds all of the issues of your life. A tender heart can only issue in happiness for which the whole world seeks ardently. You want your life to change? Soften your heart and see for yourself if this life is not worth the living!

Feel again the goodness for it is literally all around you…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Solving Your Problems…in the Light


bc26eadfb2bd120634d391866cf270fbHey you, you got a problem? Yeah man, I got a few problems and I’m not sure how to solve them! Maybe not the response you’d expect when the aforementioned question is usually posed in a moment of bravado. But, if you’re honest, you know you’ve got a few and they are dragging you down! By definition a problem becomes a problem because you don’t know how to solve it. Sure, you’ve given it a lot of thought. Yes, you’ve tried to overcome it but you are just stuck and you know it. So, let me shed some light on how to solve your problems because you need to solve them!

Let me start by saying I’m just like you. Yeah I love God and yes I’m connected to the Source of all goodness. But, like you I get caught up in my own issues. Some I’ve had for years. Some I invent to ruin a day. Some just go beyond my ability to figure them out. Some days I’m living in a peaceful nirvana and other days I’m wandering in the desert. It’s just how life is and to think otherwise is just foolish. We all have our very own personal antagonist whose job it is to drive us “nucking futs!” None of us enjoy it and all of us wish it would just stop. But sadly, it won’t stop until we learn to overcome it! God never promised life would be annoyance free. He promised that we would always have “the answer” we needed to overcome the challenge. Now there’s a day coming when those challenges will be forever gone, but that day aint today!

Our annoyances and problems come in many forms. Some are temporal like my foot hurts and I wanted to run today. Others are more long-standing and are going to require some humility on our part to overcome. Imagine that something is hurting in your body (like my foot). While the pain is going on, you can be assured the pain issue is going to be in the forefront of your thinking. That’s why you have the pain. You are being skillfully alerted to an issue that needs to be remedied. But, what about your more longstanding dramas? The ones that make you ponder, why do I always do…such and such, when I already know I hate it? The famous Apostle Paul said it best. To paraphrase he (actually God) said, “The things I know I should do, I don’t do and the things I hate, those I constantly do!” What a conundrum, huh?

You probably aren’t aware of it but all of us believer types have something called an old man nature. He’s best characterized by one prevailing attitude, namely, “You can’t tell me shit!” LOL forgive me. Said in more polite terms, “I think I already know the answers!” The great difference between the know it all you and the happy-go-lucky 8-year-old (my grandson Braylon) is that he knows he doesn’t already know and wants to learn and you already know and are thus closed off to learning. Everyone’s problem, everywhere, can be summed up in that simple statement. There is a solution to EVERY dilemma you have ever found yourself in, but you have to become humble with the heart of a child to get your answer!  Yes, you need to read that again! I’m not sure how we got so damn smart, but trust me, we aren’t very smart at all.

God, the originator of life, knows the solution to every stupid thing that ever dragged you down. He knows why your foot hurts; why your heart hurts and why you aren’t happy. He sees through all of the malarkey and disguises. He also suffers while His precious children suffer, trudging down the same roads with the same predictable outcomes. But, in order to rescue you from yourself, He needs some cooperation on your part. He needs you to humble yourself. Not humble in the religious sense whereby you whip yourself into supposed submission. Humble in the true sense where you finally admit you do not know! Those little admissions go a long way in getting to you to the mountain tops!

The starting point in overcoming your problems is to get to the light! Not get to the answer, but get to the light. Turn a light on so you can finally see something. What does God say about your situation? What does God’s Word say about how you have been thinking? Life is spiritual and often the source of your problem is something you’ve never even considered. You just don’t see the connection. So, you have to shut the old guy up and think something different. Now don’t you get all puffy and tell me you have to exercise more discipline! Are 8 year old’s disciplined? The solution isn’t more crap you have to do to somehow measure up to God’s solutions. The solution is in opening your weary heart to something bigger and smarter than yourself! Your answer will be found in your humility.

Moses was the most meek guy on the planet and God spoke to him face to face like a man speaks to his friend. Trust me, that is something that you want! God cares about every aspect of your life. From insomnia to foot pain to heartfelt fulfillment, He cares and has your answer. Your job isn’t to find a way to limp along. Your job is to get to the solution so you can be whole in every aspect of your being. In that abiding wholeness you will have found God and there’s nothing better than that!

Do you find yourself overwhelmed lately? Is life starting to get you down? Are you struggling to muster up a smile on your face? Well, something has gone wrong folks and you need to find the answers. Don’t numb yourself with too many drinks or the television or whatever else gives you a reprieve from thinking. Instead humble yourself like the heart of a child. Admit you don’t know and that you are struggling. You may be adept at lying to other people, but don’t lie to yourself (or worse, to God). Complain to the management people because the ultimate Manager knows the solutions!

Hey you, you got a problem? Well, yes actually I do, but God has got my solution?

Just some good thoughts…

 

Escaping the Negativity Trap…


Romans-12-2-Renew-Your-Mind“RENEW YOUR MIND, BOY!” That’s what I used to yell at my boys when they were growing up, during those times when their head’s were in outer space. In hindsight, what I really meant was that they needed to change their minds. I usually said it (or yelled it) when they had allowed their thoughts to become negative with the goal of getting their minds back into a positive space. Of course screaming a phrase at them in anger was highly contradictory, but my intentions were good! (smile)

So the question is, what does it mean to renew your mind and why should anyone do it? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, the world is a negative place. Bad stuff not only happens to good people, it happens to all people. But, what you may not realize is that conforming to the negativity only serves to encourage the process. People get all caught up in the negativity and eventually become trapped in a cycle that can only produce more misery and bad feelings. They think they feel angry and frustrated and depressed because of the circumstances and events that surround them and completely miss the connection between where their head is at and what is happening to them. They are caught in a trap of their own making and the only solution is to change their thoughts. (Do I have to yell it?)

Look, we have all had to deal with stupid shit at times. (Cuss word supplied for emphasis!) People don’t behave the way we think they should behave. Maybe your frustrated with your boss or your brother. Perhaps it’s your present circumstances or difficulties. It could be your lack of resources or opportunities. But no matter what it is, the only thing in this life that you can control is you! Oh you can live under the illusion that you can control other people, but you can’t! All you are going to end up with is a bunch of frustration and bitterness! And, do you really think you can impact your present negative circumstances by staying negative? Oh you are just keeping it real? The only “real” part of it is your personal adversary working you over to keep you stuck in the land of difficulty! You don’t have enough money or education to get what you want out of life? The problem isn’t the money or your lack of education. The problem is your negative head-space, closing your eyes to the opportunities that are all around you!

People spend their whole lives bitching and complaining, quarreling and fighting. What a colossal waste of your time and your life! Who do you know that ever bitched themselves into a good situation? In fact, whose behavior actually changed because someone was constantly complaining about it? No-one’s, not never! Staying frustrated, upset and agitated simply strengthens the enemy’s hold on your life. You only beat that old bird when you stop playing his game; fighting his fight! There is a better way…

When something bad or negative happens to you, you have to immediately seek your way out of it. That doesn’t mean you ignore the negative event. Instead you acknowledge the negative event, but refuse to stay there mesmerized by what just happened. Most people not only suffer a negative event, but also rehearse the story a thousand times to their friends and family. “You won’t believe what he said to me!” “Man, let me tell you what happened to me at work today!” All of that rehearsing and story telling is just paying ongoing homage to the one behind your problems! You’re never going to get out of the darkness that way. Instead you just become inculcated in the drama.

The simple solution for when you find yourself in the darkness (and all negativity and difficulty is darkness) is to turn on the light! Glorifying the darkness and reiterating the darkness and planning some darkness as revenge, is just fighting darkness with darkness, hoping some light will show up. Remember, you can only control you and your reactions. So, you have to “renew your mind, boy” and change your thinking to the light.

The light consists of love and forgiveness, kindness and compassion. Love stops keeping score of the wrongs done and decides to love anyway. Love stands above all of the pointless drama because love sees through the confusion. In the broad light of day, you can see exactly what is going on. In the darkness, you’ll be pricked repeatedly by an opponent you cannot discern. Turn on the light!

In life, you are going to have to overcome some difficulties. You will be persecuted and irritated and annoyed. You will be challenged on what you believe and at times wrongfully injured. But, you still have an opportunity to win, that is if you learn to fight properly with the light. The only thing that defeats the adversary; your personal adversary, is the light of God’s Word. The sooner you get your mind lined up with it, the more quickly your personal dramas end and you can get back to pursuing your blessed life. Or you can sit there puffed up, just keeping it real, stewing in your own personal “doo-doo” a lifetime! The choice is yours. The choice has always been yours!

Escaping the negativity is not only necessary in this life, it is your right! God has not left you without recourse. But, if you’re going to overcome, you have to do it God’s way. Getting supremely pissed off and swearing and cursing and fighting may make you feel better for the moment, but like all hidden poisons, is just going to make you sick in the end. Love knows a far better way and in the end you get a peaceful, blessed life…

RENEW YOUR MIND, BOY! It is the only way…

Just some good thoughts…