Love is the Only “Why…”


“I’m in all of it. … I was there in her laugh but I’m also here in your pain. I’m the reason for everything. I am the why. Don’t try to live without me, Howard. Please don’t.” ~ Aimee Moore, Collateral Beauty. Last night I watched a beautiful movie about a man (Will Smith) searching for answers following the death of his child. In his quest, he sought answers from death, time and love. Love’s apt response for life was, “I am the reason for everything. I am the why…” Love will always be the only “why.”

Behind every heartbeat in life is love. It is the life-giving solution to a world lost in emptiness and pain. It is the light that shines in the darkness. It is in the warmth of a sunny day. It refutes fear and is the only motive that is always right. It is sought for by all and obscured for so many. It is ever-present and waiting behind very corner. It can make all it touches beautiful and can soften even the hardest heart. It will always be your only “why.”

For all of the negative events that can happen in your life; for all the things that can go astray; for all of your sorrow and losses and pain, nothing takes away the joy of living more than the absence of love. You began your life full of love, both in receiving and giving. As your mother poured her love into you, you poured your love back into her. As your father’s love flowed through his hand into your hand, your love flowed back from your hand to his hand as well. Living life with love was for you as natural as breathing. If you didn’t receive the love you needed, you found others that would give it to you and you back to them. Love was your only “why.”

Sadly, as you aged, you found that love wasn’t as plentiful in the world. The people you interacted with had hearts that were hardened through difficulty and rejection. And, as they built up walls around their hearts in an attempt at self-preservation, you built up walls around your own heart as well. Like a callous on your hand, your heart became desensitized to love. Many find themselves groping through life looking for the love that already lives inside them, behind self-made barriers. In their numbness, they seek love in alcohol, in recognition, in admiration, in romance after romance. They aspire for wealth, extreme fitness, plastic surgery and anything that promises them the love they’ve been searching for all along, unable to see because of the hardness of their hearts. They forgot love was their only “why.”

Your hardness of heart wasn’t something you intended, but rather a response to your own experience of life. As the world gnawed away at you, you couldn’t perceive what was happening. You internalized its messages of guilt and shame. You accepted responsibility for every weakness and shortcoming and falsely concluded that there was something wrong with you. You became afraid to express who you really are and opted instead to portray yourself as someone else; someone you felt people would love. You carried around your failings like sandbags, refusing to set your own self free. You just couldn’t imagine that you deserved any better. You never understood that your feelings are universal feelings and in even in moments of rejection, the people rejecting you needed the love as much as you did. For all people, love is the only “why…”

Finding the love that you feel has been eluding you, isn’t in doing better, being better or working harder. It’s not a function of discipline or reading books or in finding your soul mate. Love is manifested in giving. True love gives of itself freely and unreservedly, not by pretense, but in truth. You give out your love to other people and to yourself. You give love to yourself by giving yourself a break. You love yourself by deciding to no longer think disparaging thoughts about yourself and accept yourself for who you are. You cease giving love conditions to maintain and love yourself unconditionally. You love yourself by changing your focus from yourself, your stuff, your hangups, your frustrations, to other people’s stuff and hangups and frustrations. You offer them love and unending forgiveness. You speak kindness and tenderness and sweetness and you refuse to speak otherwise. You remind them that love is their only “why!”

As the gentle, spring sunshine and moisture encourages all living things to grow, while melting away the harshness of the long winter, you melt away the hardness of your heart by returning to love. You don’t need a wall to protect your heart, you need a heart that’s full of love. Love is the life-giving source of the universe. God is love. Love climbs the highest mountains and swims the greatest depths. Love chooses the object of its adoration by decision, not a feeling, and thus gives and gives and gives. As you give, you receive back a thousandfold, for love is a generous giver. Love is the only “why.”

Love is all around you, my friends, seeking life-giving expression through you. Don’t refuse love its entrée to your heart, nor stifle its flow from your heart to others. In love you will see again the wonder that is all around you. It is in your grandson’s eyes, your wife’s laughter and your mother’s touch. It’s on the pages of a good book, in the walls of your home and under your feet in your own backyard. It’s in the wag of your old dog’s tail and the embrace of a good friend. Love is forever the only “why” so be sure to notice her collateral beauty…

Love is the reason for everything…

Don’t try to live without it.

Just some good thoughts.

Love the One You Is…


Some time ago I read a fantastic book called, “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. It’s one of those books that just gets you and you’re just not sure why. But, alas, she is the inspiration for this blog. Actually she is the inspiration for anyone suffering from an incessant need for outward approval, though the reasons be myriad. This is really a story about you and how you feel about yourself when no-one is watching.

Something tragic has happened to you. You don’t know it’s a tragedy because you’re stuck in the middle of it. You cannot see it or you would stop it immediately. You’re pretty sure you feel good about yourself and there’s nothing specific you can point at to know that something is wrong, but wrong it is. You, like the rest of us, live in a world that very narrowly defines who we should be; how we should look and what we should have achieved, by now. The messages come so often and with such frequency that we can’t even keep track of what’s happening. All we know for sure is that we are too fat, we don’t have enough money, we aren’t successful enough(?), in short that our real self comes up short (pun intended). The unsolvable problem is that we are foolishly measuring our self-worth by a standard set by the world, for the world, falsely promising us fulfillment in that same world.

Your self value has absolutely nothing to do with anything outside of yourself. It is your self value for God’s sake. The one determining your value was always you, is always you and will always be you! It’s not based on a standard set by someone else, how could it be? You are unique in the highest sense of the word. There is no-one the same as you, despite the similarities. What you have to offer and what you bring to the world cannot be offered or brought by anyone but you. But, instead of bringing you and betting on the cards you are holding, you fold before the game gets going. The world, huffing and puffing, looking confident and smiling smugly, quickly talks you out of playing your own hand.  The moment you begin to feel yourself and start making some choices regarding your own direction, you entertain the naysayers and revert to being someone you are not.

As a long-standing member of the “approval seeking” club, I know what you are going through. You’ve learned, like I learned,  that instead of being your real self, it is far easier to be who the people want you to be. You become a master of playing the role and you become loathe to disappoint. But, let me ask you a question. Aren’t you wrongly concluding that the person you are isn’t desirable and opting instead for a safe, approved version. Who can define success for you, but you? Are you happy? Are you content? Do you have value in your own estimation? Your opinion of yourself is the one that matters the most in this world.

What kind of cosmic hoodwinking could convince us to be at odds with our own self, our only self? What kind of trickery and treachery gets a person to think poorly of themselves and to measure themselves by any other factor than themselves? Can you even see the insanity of thinking that way? If you, my friend, are not actually for you, who the hell ever will be? If you aren’t voting for you in the contest, how can you win? How can you achieve or succeed or find happiness or become fulfilled if you aren’t even choosing yourself? I mean, man oh man, you can’t even choose yourself? What happened to you that you could be so opposed to your own self?

The root of this self-destructive behavior can always be tracked back to guilt, shame, condemnation and generally feeling not so good about yourself. But again, the behavior is self-destructive meaning you, yourself are cooperating with the destruction. You bought in. You agreed. Somewhere along the line something or someone convinced you that your mistakes, your humanity; your susceptibility to error wasn’t based on something outside of you, but rather pointed to something wrong with you internally. In accepting that fallacy, you started to become your own worst enemy. Instead of leaving error and evil and bad influence with its originator, you bought into the lie that you originated the troubles, yourself. And for that, you are being wickedly deceived. None of us would knowingly choose pain or difficulty or trouble. Instead we get pulled or pushed off track. We’re human for goodness sakes and we all make mistakes. Once you have veered off course and made the mistake, it’s in the books. You cannot change it or alter it or influence it. It’s done and it’s over with. It only lives on in your mind and even that requires your cooperation. In a sense, you cooperated with wrong by doing whatever you did and you continue to cooperate with wrong by harboring your mistakes in your mind. Any professional athlete knows that in order to remain a professional, you must move immediately to the next moment. Athletic catastrophe follows any memory of errors made.

You may not be a professional athlete, but you are a professional of your own life. Well, you should be! Somewhere along the line, you have to choose you. You have to cast your all important vote for yourself if your ever going to approach the life you want to live. How much time do you have on this earth? How many chances do you get? You owe it to yourself to get on your own side. Stop playing a role and just be. Vote for yourself. Have confidence in yourself. Be 100% for yourself. If you can get there or even close to there, you will, for the first time in your life, find out something incredible and amazing. You’ll find out that you do have something to offer and that you are indispensable. You’ll discover that the thing you bring, no-one else can bring and bring it you will. As you bring it, you’ll reinforce who you are and feel fulfillment in epic proportions. This is authentic living. This the truth!

Love yourself, trust yourself, believe in yourself.

Love the one you is…

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

 

Book Excerpt, “Sure I Speak in Tongues” (Doesn’t Everybody?) Chapter Eight – The Fruit of the Spirit


Chapter Eight

The Fruit of the Spirit

For years and years people have spoken of the fruit of the spirit as if it actually referred to the fruit of good works. There’s certainly nothing wrong with good works, in fact the reason you have the spirit from God is so that you can perform good works. Or, I might say perform the best works! I believe the confusion comes from another verse of scripture that uses this same phrase. The verse says:

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Ephesians 5:9

As it’s stated here it certainly would lead you to believe that the fruit of the spirit comes from goodness, righteousness and truth. However, the word for “spirit” in the text is actually the word for light. It’s the fruit of the light we are talking about here. This is simple to research for yourself or by even looking at other versions of the Bible. But here in the book of Galatians, the fruit of the spirit refers to the end result of cultivating your spirit. In order for anything to produce fruit it must first be cultivated. If you decide to plant yourself an apple tree, there are some steps you have to perform before you can actually enjoy the fruit. First you have to plant your tree in good ground. You have to prepare the ground and you can’t just plant the thing anywhere! After you’ve planted it, you have to care for it on a consistent basis, day after day. If you neglect it for a period of time, it may still produce some fruit, but the process will be hindered. However, if you diligently care for your tree, providing the best nutrients and water, eventually it is going to produce some fruit. And, you already know that the fruit doesn’t just show up overnight. That would be very nice, but it just doesn’t work that way. You have to continue with your care of the tree until the fruit appears. Even then, there’s a maturing that takes place before the fruit tree really kicks into high gear producing more fruit than you can handle. At that point, you have to find some friends and neighbors with which to share your bountiful crop. Pretty soon you become known in the neighborhood for your abundant apple crop!

The holy spirit living inside you follows the same process, with one exception. No matter how much you neglect your gift, it is never going to die off. It will just continue to be dormant until you start to provide it with the required care. God’s seed in you, like any fruit yielding tree, has contained within it all that you will ever need to produce the fruit. Therefore, your job is to cultivate your seed. You cultivate fruit by utilizing the manifestations of holy spirit, namely speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues, day by day, builds up your spirit and at a certain point begins to produce fruit in your life. However, the fruit produced isn’t limited to apples or pears. The fruit of the spirit is everything you have ever yearned for in your life. It represents the most important things for a human being, necessary to thrive and to flourish! And, it can all be yours by making the decision to manifest the gift inside you. How incredibly simple and misunderstood this is in our world. By confusing the fruit of the spirit with the fruit of good works, people think they must somehow become good enough before God will bless them with these fantastic realities. God does not bless you because of how good you are. God blesses you when you decide to believe Him. When you finally get around to believing Him, you begin to do exactly what He tells you to do and you stop doing everything the world is always telling you to do. It is impossible for you to ever earn God’s blessings in your life! How good could you ever become? I have spent some time traversing that slippery slope, and trust me when I tell you, it is a painful, losing endeavor! You are not going to arrive at some place of ‘nirvana’ whereby you always do what you are supposed to do. You have the nature of sin in your blood. No matter how disciplined, how faithful, how sincere you are in your personal efforts to earn God’s goodness, you will never, ever, ever arrive at that place. Instead, like most of the “earn your blessings” folks, your end result will be nothing but condemnation and pain, coupled with critical judgment of yourself first and then other people. Your heart will become hard and calloused because the backstory to that behavior isn’t God convicting you of sin, but rather the adversary’s accusation being permitted to hold a place in your life. While you are feeling so religious and righteous, you will be completely off track from God and His love for you.  That influence controlling your life, and if you are honest, making you feel miserable, isn’t from God.

The things of God are always freely given to you when you believe, end of story! If you have ever felt the sting of condemnation and guilt, then you know it is not a motivator for your good. It is the exact opposite. It just beats you down and takes away your confidence (believing) in God. What you need from God is His forgiveness and guaranteed assurance that He has made you who you are and that by your own self you can do nothing! Understanding that finally liberates you from sin, which is the point of the whole book of Romans.[1] You are now, because of what God has done for you, free to love; free to give; free to serve. You are completely, completely, completely set free by God because of the accomplishments of His son for your life. Your response? Speak in tongues abundantly which is described as “giving thanks well!”[2]

As you speak in tongues faithfully, day by day, as God’s liberated person, you are cultivating the fruit of the spirit into your life. When the fruit shows up is God’s business. Your business is to faithfully cultivate the fruit. So, what is the fruit of the spirit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Another way to say this is, what is the result of faithfully manifesting the gift? You get to enjoy your fruit! It is important to recognize that these fruit are an end result. They are not something you work hard to do; they are something that God blesses you with for acting on what He said to act on! This is a crucially important distinction! These fruit are a blessing from God to be enjoyed, not requirements for your behavior. For example, if you experiencing the love of God as a part of the fruit of the spirit, you will naturally share that indescribable love with other people. It will be there for you as a cultivated fruit. It is not a behavior you must strive to earn; it is a fruit you get to enjoy. Are you beginning to see how awesome this really is? This is your access point to the sweetest things in life. Your only requirement, if you want to use that word, is to enjoy and share your abundance of fruit. The peace of God that passes all human understanding, can be yours as a cultivated fruit. In that sublime experience of God’s peace, you will find that you really don’t need anything else in life to make you happy. You will be totally and completely at rest on the inside. How many people have even experienced this once in their lives? Well, here it is and it is yours for the taking. Speak in tongues much in your private prayer life!

You may have noticed that there are nine fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians. They are listed in the singular. In other words, the nine aspects are all part of one fruit, like a cluster of grapes. The fruit, like the nine manifestations, are placed where they are for a specific purpose. Also, like the manifestations, they are packaged in three groups of three. Within the three clusters, they follow a distinct pattern. The pattern is 1.) activates, 2.) encourages, 3.) guards. The first in the pattern activates you. It is a starting point which motivates you (internally) to act. The experience of love, for example, motivates you to take action. All loving is giving.[3] In that wonderful love, you will have a burning zeal to do things for other people. No-one will have to motivate you to do it. You will already ardently want to do it!

The next in the pattern encourages you. In a sense it inspires you to continue in something. When you feel encouraged, you persist in your endeavor because of your encouragement. The experience of joy, for example, provides you the encouragement you need to see something through no matter how hard it may be to do. Jesus, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God (triumphant)![4] Joy is something that occurs on the inside. There are many things that may make us happy, like pleasant circumstances, but joy transcends all outside conditions and is something that takes place within us. The result of walking in the light, remaining in fellowship with God, produces fullness of joy.[5] We are encouraged to continue in the light because of how wonderful the experience of joy is to our souls.

The third in the pattern, that which completes the cycle, is that which guards you or guards the results. John 10:10 states that the thief (the enemy) comes not but for to steal and to kill and to destroy.[6] Your adversary has no other function other than his three-fold ministry mentioned here. Once you have gotten born again, he can no longer destroy you as you have received the gift of eternal life. However, he can still destroy the rewards you may have received had you chosen to walk by the spirit in your life.  In similar fashion, he cannot ultimately kill you as you will get up one day when the Lord returns, even if your life ended prematurely by one of his devices. Thus his primary mission against the believer will always be to steal something from you. He steals away your happiness. He steals your energy and your enthusiasm for life. He steals God’s blessings from you by getting you caught up into wrong doctrines and wrong beliefs. He steals your confidence in God which in turn defeats your believing; with your believing being the only way to overcome his attacks and manifest the more than abundant life. And, the adversary is very good at stealing! In order to receive the things of God, it is necessary for you to guard the results. You have to guard against his devices which seek to talk you out of the truth before you get the results. Thus, peace is an example of a guarding fruit. In the Bible, the peace of God is that which informs you if you are on track. When you feel peaceful about a decision, you can be assured your decision is right on. However, if you feel troubled about something, the agitation you are experiencing serves as an indicator that something is amiss; something needs to be changed or dealt with properly. In this way peace serves as the umpire of your heart. If peace rules (umpires) you are safe! If peace doesn’t rule (umpire) you are out![7] Often you may feel anxiety (fear) about something. God tells you not to be anxious about anything.[8] The agitating feeling of being anxious simply informs your mind, not that you must prepare for something dreadful, but rather that you need to do something with your thoughts. You need to change your thoughts about the situation. You’ll know that you have been successful when your peace returns. This is how the peace of God guards your heart. When at peace you can rest assured that your believing is right on with God’s Word and that you can continue looking forward to a good result. However, if you persist in your anxiety and your fear, the end result is always loss in some capacity. The loss you suffer, which is the adversary stealing from you, came about because you did not successfully guard the result you were after. Thus peace functions as a fruit that guards your results. The nine fruit of the spirit, in their respective groups of three, all follow this pattern.

  1. Love – activates you to do something.
  2. Joy – encourages you to persist in something.
  3. Peace – guards the results that you are after.
  1. Longsuffering (patience) – activates you to do something.
  2. Gentleness (kindness) – encourages you to persist in something.
  3. Goodness (being upright in heart) – guards the results you are after.
  1. Faith (believing) – activates you to do something.
  2. Meekness – encourages you to persist in something.
  3. Temperance (self-control) guards the results you are after.

Pretty fantastic, wouldn’t you say? These fruit are all available to you as you cultivate the gift by speaking in tongues much in your private prayer life. You have the opportunity to have these treasures by one simple act of believing on your part. You don’t have to work hard to finally feel God’s love, you simply receive it as a result. You have no requirement to roughly discipline yourself to gain self-control, you receive it easily as a fruit. You don’t have to pray for more patience to help people, you can just use the ability after receiving your fruit. Can you see how revolutionary this is for you? By believing God and faithfully persisting in speaking in tongues, these fantastic qualities just show up in your life. Oh the depth of the wisdom of God! He already knows how hard you’re trying and He made a better, far easier way for you to receive.

The fruit of the spirit have been referred to as the mark of quality in your life. If you want to measure your progress as a believing believer, all you have to do is tally up how many of these blessings you are enjoying in your life. This certainly isn’t a competition with other believers, but rather a gauge for you to determine if you are doing it right. I think you would have to agree that if you were experiencing even one aspect of the fruit listed in Galatians, it would be well worth the price of admission! My prayer is that someday you will finally recognize that the source of all goodness and blessing in your life is God and that God is good only, at all times and in every situation! Once this reality finally dawns on you, I know that you will have, once and for all, let go of all of your own good works and decided rather to freely accept all that God has freely given to you. Speak in tongues like a house-a-fire! You’ll thank me (and God mostly) when your fruit appears and then it is yours to enjoy fully!

[1] Romans 6:22

[2] 1st Corinthians 14:17

[3] John 3:16

[4] Hebrews 12:2

[5] 1st John 1:4-7

[6] John 10:10

[7] Colossians 3:15

[8] Philippians 4:6