You Are Not Your Behavior!


It is common, in the highly philosophical world of social media, for people to have license to say whatever they think is true. Living in America, it certainly is their right! However, not all that is written is necessarily accurate. Some things, while sounding good on the surface, work against people’s best interests. One such conclusion, usually stated in an attempt to confront hypocrisy, is the declaration that people “are” what their behaviors indicate! Are you the sum total of your behaviors? Read on…

To conclude that who you are is based on your behavior falsely assumes you are operating in a vacuum. It does not account for circumstances or the environment. It wrongly assumes that all human behavior is simply the individual acting, free of any outside influence. It does not begin to consider the vast impact of social media which spreads negative messages like wildfire. It summarily discounts your upbringing, your difficulties and your troubles. It reckons in arrogance that all people have the same opportunity to make good decisions completely removed from the situations they find themselves in, whether arduous and perilous or delightful and easy. In short, it fails to take into account the human condition, the foibles, the errors in judgment, the emotions and passions, the capacity to see the choices clearly and therefore choose wisely.

The spectrum of human behavior is vast and wide. What is wrong for one person is right for another. The person who is hurting will naturally hurt people. But, the solution for “hurt” people is not to condemn their behavior, but rather seek to remedy their hurts. People that steal and cheat and manipulate, do so because they have learned to do so, not because they are inherently bad, but because they learned no other way to get their needs met. And while their behavior is assuredly wrong, condemnation and judgment do little to offer a chance of escape. The person that consistently does “wrong” does so for a myriad of reasons. Simply demanding that they do better or assigning more and more punishments, does nothing more than telling a beggar to get a job! Surely the person that begs, whether legitimately or as part of a deception, does so at the expense of their own self image, shamefully begging as a last resort solution or in futility for not finding any other way to make it. Wrong behavior can be remedied, but whether repaired or worsened, is not an indicator of the value of that person.

God’s love for people is never based on their behaviors. God loves unconditionally and he does so because that is what people need the most. God has the ability to see what cannot be seen and understands exactly what is behind the wrong behavior. He is all-knowing and as such knows who the person really is absent all the evil influences. He looks on the heart. And in His provision for man, provided a way for men to escape the confinement of their own past behaviors. He gave man a Savior, a man subject to all the wrong choices possible for a man, yet without a failure to always make the right one. He gave him as a substitute for the man, so that the man could move forward according to the accomplished works of another man, thereby being set free from himself. In that acceptance of the Savior, His precious man could finally have the opportunity, the free will opportunity, to make a different choice. Then, men aren’t simply the sum of their behaviors, but instead a new creation.

In similar fashion, our job as fellow human beings experiencing the human condition, is to extend that same love and acceptance to other people. We must stop judging everyone and foolishly comparing their behaviors to our own in an attempt to feel better about ourselves. Though we cannot look on their hearts, we can at least acknowledge what stinkers we can be at times compete with all of the past behaviors we would like to forget! People that act poorly or rashly or foolishly, do so from a lack of understanding, not an understanding of what is right, but rather an understanding of who they really are or can be. People need your love, not a lecture! People need compassion and understanding and kindness. The kid struggling at school or exhibiting bad behaviors needs love and forgiveness more than an extended restriction! Inside we are all the same. We need lots and lots of love and acceptance. We need people to think well of us despite our wrong behaviors and as such, influence our behavior for the better. We need copious amounts of forgiveness which enables us to start again, over and over again if needed, free of judgment, resentment  and long harbored ill feelings.

Maybe you aren’t feeling so good about yourself right now. Maybe you have made some mistakes and some bad choices. Maybe you have been choosing poorly for many, many years. Well, my friend, that does not define who you are at all. All it defines is where you are at this moment in your personal evolution and growth. Your life is not wasted. It isn’t too late for you. God will give you a new beginning if you want one and it does not matter what you did in the past. It is that big and God is that good! As a writer once noted, “You made a choice in the moment that seemed reasonable in the moment, but to look back upon it in your later years with new eyes is at a minimum unnecessary and foolish.” Let your past be the past even if it extends only five minutes ago.

You are NOT the sum total of your behaviors! You are a person subject to a wide variety of influences, some of which will have assuredly led you astray. The only remedy for being led astray is to rediscover the course. Remaining lost and lamenting is a fool’s game! Know this day and everyday, that you can be exactly who you choose to be without any restriction. “Judge not another man’s servant as God is able to make him stand!”

Just some good thoughts…

Driving Ms. Daisy… (Are You Directing Your Thoughts or Are Your Thoughts Directing You?)


There’s a little known secret in the world today and it involves what you think about the most in the privacy of your own mind. Your day to day thinking forms the basis of how your life turns out. What you consider, what you dwell upon, what you incubate in the chambers of your mind turns into your experience of life (not simply your reaction to it, but your actual experience). As such, and this is why it remains a secret, you have a duty to control your thinking. You are responsible to actively direct your thoughts as opposed to having them direct you! Are you driving Ms. Daisy going where you are instructed or are you driving your own life?

Many, many people feel that their thoughts are something that just happen as they navigate life. They unknowingly just sort of let their thoughts run wherever the wind takes them. They wrongly assume “good” days and “bad” days are predetermined with their responsibility being simply to make it through the bad days. They hope tomorrow will be better. And in thinking this way, they become victims, cruelly tortured by an opponent they cannot see or discern. They are victimized because no-one ever taught them how to control their thinking, much less any reason to seek to do so. A life lived with uncontrolled thinking is a life being directed by someone outside of yourself. It’s a life filled with misery.

Your heart is the great citadel of your soul. Your heart must be guarded above all that you can ever guard because from “it” flow the issues of your life. Those things you have in your heart, be they wonderful or disastrous, will come to pass in your physical reality if they are allowed to remain in your heart. Your heart is made up collectively of the things you think about the most. The way that you guard your heart is by controlling what you will and will not think about. Failure to control your thinking, a human epidemic, leads to a heart filled with things you do not want, put in there by something that seeks to bring harm, defeat and loss into your life. Think about it for a second. If you aren’t driving, who is? God doesn’t do the driving for you, no matter how much you wish He would. Instead, God admonishes you to guard your heart. He tells you to control your thinking. He asks that you, by your freedom of will, make the decision to think how He says to think. Committing to controlling your thinking and thinking in terms of the things God says to think about, leads you directly to the abundant life He promised you!

Please allow me to clarify what I’m offering you in terms of your life experience! There’s a whole world of goodness and love and blessings awaiting you if you are willing to do your part! But, you have to do your part! I’m certainly not suggesting that you walk around trying to find the good in bad things or simply putting a smile on your face when things go terribly wrong. Nor am I asking you to ignore negative events or act like things are okay when they are not okay. Instead, I’m suggesting that you fight to remain positive in your expectations. Allowing the world to define your experience and decide for you whether or not you are going to be okay leads only to more and more defeat. As such, your duty, your solemn duty is to not stake your existence on what things look like or seem like, but rather on what God’s Word says is right; what God’s Word says is true. Holding fast to what the Word says; to what God has promised you is the only way to escape your present circumstances and turn things around for the better. Your expectation for the future is just that, “your expectation!” You can expect for things not to work out or you can expect that they will, no matter what is going on in your present experience. If you’re honest you already know how negative the world is and the people and the circumstances. Controlling your thinking means knowing the preponderance of negativity, you still remain positive, because God is bigger than any circumstance!

Controlled thinking isn’t walking around all day holding onto a certain thought as life doesn’t work that way. You aren’t a robot! Instead, you go about your day to day experience and pay attention to what you are thinking about. When you notice you are afraid, for example, you think about some promise from God that counters that fear. Then, as your duty in controlled thought, you decide not to entertain those fearful expectations. Oh it’s not always easy as you will find yourself real tempted to consider those negatives, but controlled thinking refuses it. All of your reasoning and mental ability are no match for what’s behind that stuff. You take it on by not taking it on! Refuse it. This pattern applies to every negative thing that limits and tarnishes your life. If you will commit yourself to doing as I suggest, you will begin to experience a joy and happiness you have not ever experienced before. You will find the peace that passes understanding and find yourself right in the middle of all of God’s goodness, available for you…

Determine now that you will begin trying to control your thinking. Think about what you are thinking about. Thoughts that give you agitation or unrest are sure indicators you are thinking about things you need to stop thinking about. Don’t overcomplicate things with your human reasoning. Simply refuse the negatives and replace them with the positives of God’s Word. Do this faithfully moment by moment throughout your day. As you become more accustomed to it, it will get easier to do and you will experience for yourself the blessedness.

Are you driving Ms. Daisy to destinations you didn’t choose? Direct and control your own thoughts and arrive at the place where all your dreams come true…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Ummm, How’s Your Energy Lately?


When you boil it all down (pun intended), life is all about energy. Life functions or does not function based on energy. Everything gives off something. Some things in life serve to increase your energy, while other things tend to deplete that energy. You can feel energized and excited about life or you can feel tired, bored and distinctly lacking in energy! So the question is, how’s your energy lately?

It is often said that children have endless energy. They flick about from place to place, happy as a lark, purely in the moment. They don’t waste their energy in pointless worry, but rather focus their energy on the things that give them joy. They seldom feel badly about themselves and if they do, they seek to resolve it immediately. They don’t give a second thought to whether or not their needs will be met as they wholeheartedly trust their parents. And if they do find themselves with unmet needs, they continue to expect those needs to be met regardless. In short, they are wonderful, little positivity machines spreading good feelings to weary adults. Many a tired parent has been uplifted by their children.

By the time we get a little older we forget the lessons of our childhood. Instead of focusing on the good in life, we get all caught up in everything that isn’t right. We churn and burn in our thoughts, painfully considering all that could go wrong. We dismiss childrens’ delightful attitudes as naivety and assume instead ‘grown-folks’ thinking. We worry our needs won’t be met and we worry when things are going well. We cleave to all perceived wrongs done to us and remain vigilant for any new ones. We live in the past and in the future, rarely stopping in the present to have a look around. We not only feel bad about ourselves for wrongs done, we refuse to give those things a time limit. Some people are giving all their energy away to some relatively brief, bad event that happened over thirty years ago. And we wonder why we feel so tired. We wonder why we drag about like corpses with barely enough energy to fight for our own existence.

People aren’t worn out today because of how much they have to do. They’re worn out because of what they have been doing with their minds. They are giving away their finite energy to things they cannot affect. They are focused on the wrong stuff. They are distracted, confused and bewildered. People are so accustomed to worrying that they think not worrying is irresponsible. They distress over possible, though not likely, unreasonable, terrible outcomes. And they do it habitually, perpetually, day after day and night after night. And in so doing, they squander away their precious energy. All they have to show for it is a life not truly lived. Instead of courageously reaching forward, trying new things, endeavoring and taking risks, they settle into a worn-out mediocrity, full of fear and uneasiness.

Since all people have an energy they produce, you can be greatly affected by the people you are around. Some people add life to your soul and although you cannot put it into words, you know you are the better because of them. Others serve simply to drain away your life force. They bring distress and unrest and aren’t fulfilled until you are brought down to their level. Add to that an environment steeped in negatives, fears and predictions of doom, you are left defeated and without hope for the future. You become a victim trapped in a world that offers you nothing good, lasting or worthy of your pursuit. In that mental turmoil you find yourself unhappy and depressed, your depression being a lowering of your vitality and energy. Again it is no wonder the whole place lives on antidepressants or wine or anything that promises an escape, if only temporary.

God is the source of all energy. He is the force behind all life. His love, His goodness, His light is the energy you need to live a life that is abundant, yes more than abundant! It is always there available for you if you want it. It has no downside, no bad exchange, no cause for distress. He offers you life and energy and enthusiasm, not in exchange for something but in spite of everything. In order to access His life, you have to do something different. You have to take charge of that mind of yours and bring it under control. He will never overstep your freedom of will, no matter what the preacher may have told you! You have to do it yourself (with His help of course). You have to stop giving your energy to negatives. You have to put an end to the futile worrying. You must learn to stop considering and discussing and reasoning with your fears. Fear brings life to a standstill. You already know that no-one gets out of fear by continuing to embrace the fear. Instead fear is resolved by depriving it of your precious energy! It fades away only when you deny it your power, your energy, your life. In order for fear, which is always a lie, to live it needs life from someone as it has no life in itself. All it has is illusion, tempting away unknowing humans into its lair.

Once you learn to obey God in your thinking, or at least start trying to do it, you will find new energy to pursue your endeavors. You will find enthusiasm (en-theos) and energy and love. You will find that life takes on meaning again. The blurry will become clear and you will have the clarity you need to make moves successfully. Oh you may get sucked in again from time to time, but know this – deciding what you will and will not think about and refusing the darkness will lead ever to the life you really want! Is your energy at an all time low, my friends? Start controlling your thoughts and see if God will not energize you afresh!

Just some good thoughts…

Do You Love Yourself, Flaws and All?


The other day I was listening to a teaching from my good buddy Mark Wallace. He told a story about an experiment where people were asked to describe themselves to a criminal sketch artist. Then, those same folks were also described to the sketch artist by their friends. Amazingly, the friends’ description of the person looked much more like the person than their own description! Why, you ask? Because when people described themselves they overly focused on their perceived flaws, resulting in an image not even close to how they really looked. So the question that begs is, do you love yourself, flaws and all?

People tend to be brutal in their own estimation of themselves. They have been caught up in a culture that falsely represents who people are and as such have been talked into focusing on everything they are not instead of everything they truly are. They have forgone any recognition of all that makes them unique and wonderful in favor of an obsession with having to be something the world deems acceptable or beautiful or admirable. They magnify their “wrong behaviors” out of all proportion in comparison to their “right behaviors.”  In short, they have believed lies and accusations concerning themselves; failed to recognize them as such, and landed at a place where they don’t even like themselves much less love themselves.

The root of this dilemma stems back as far as there have been people to trip up. The enemy of mankind knows that if you can divide people against themselves, they become weak and easy to defeat. If you can progress deep enough into their psyche they eventually become their own worst enemy hurling internal insults at their own selves and perpetually shaming themselves, the end point of which is self-loathing and a complete loss of self-respect. Oh no-one is going to tell you this, much less admit it to themselves. But, it is a distinct reality of the human condition. There’s so little love in the world because people don’t even love themselves. Or worse, love does not prevail because people have a distorted view of what love is. They think love and self-respect accompany financial success or having a “perfect” body, marrying the right person or getting into the right school. They wrongly assign love worthy acts as something they must do or be in order to be worthy of love. And, in never being able to fully realize those love worthy acts or become, by their good behavior, love worthy people, they eek out love to themselves as if it was a scarce commodity.

Loving yourself is a decision you make about yourself in the same way it is a decision you make about other people. When you have a new baby, no-one has to remind you to love them. When you meet a potential life partner, though you hardly recognize it, you have made a conscious decision to love that person. You didn’t “fall” in love, you chose love based upon certain criteria you already decided. In the same way, you make a decision to love yourself! You cannot say, as some falsely report, that you choose love as long as the behaviors are right or the conditions are right or the time is right. Love, real love, exists above behaviors. It is not fleeting, flitting around based on whether or not the sun is out or the vibe feels good or if that certain someone says the right things. Love is so much bigger and so much more important than that! Love is the most necessary ingredient of the human condition and you need it more than anything else you could ever need!

Do you know where I learned this? I learned it from God. God loves me unconditionally, past, present and future. He loved me into finally loving myself. He continues to love me despite me and for that I am forever grateful. He taught me that love isn’t something you reserve for good behavior, but rather something you decide to do no matter what. Love does not change and alter itself according to the ebb and flow of life. It is not dependent upon conditions. It is persistent and determined and never ending. It is to be freely and liberally shared with others. In so doing, it finally persuades your stubborn heart to apply it to yourself; to love yourself!

You must learn to love yourself, not in a conceited or inflated way, but in the true depths of your being. You decide to love yourself, not because you are so good or so righteous or somehow have achieved perfection, but rather because you are imperfect and not always good and maybe seldom of your own works, righteous. You love yourself despite your frail humanity and weakness. You love yourself even when you falter and fail. You love yourself because your Father in heaven loves you and wants nothing less for you…ever!

You would be surprised to find that the weird stuff you do and think is the exact same weird stuff we all do and think. We are all in this thing together. Your secret sins are no worse than my secret sins. Your propensity towards error is no greater than my propensity towards error. We are all people, wonderfully flawed and unique, seeking in unending revolutions, endless expressions of love. Be yourself! Express yourself. Love yourself, not because you deserve it but rather because you need it. No-one is worthy of love as love chooses its object first and not after.

Decide today to stop entertaining the accusations about everything you are not. Stop focusing in on what isn’t right about you or what things you foolishly have concluded need revision. Instead embrace who you are; who God made YOU to be and give every bit of that loveliness to a love starved and dying world. You are a wonderful, unique masterpiece formed, made and created by God to help other people love themselves too!

Oh my friends, God is love…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Perpetual Self Analysis… or Better, I Want to Throw Up!


At one time in my life, I was an avid reader of self-help books. I simply devoured the material. You name it, I read it. And amidst all my frenzied study, I felt great. I felt like I had finally discovered the answers to all of my questions. But, looking back at my life, it’s obvious now that my dedicated study was based on one false premise; namely that something was wrong with me; something deeply flawed and in dire need of repair. Self-help promised me discovery. It promised me understanding and liberty from the things that assailed me. It persuaded me that if I just looked deep enough through perpetual self analysis, the remedies were all waiting for me.

Flash forward 20 years and now I want to throw up. Self analysis is a treacherous game that promises freedom while actually offering only bondage and slavery. You don’t become better from self analysis, you become worse. Self analysis purports that inside of you is some indwelling, profound goodness, that if discovered will make all your dreams come true. It suggests that if you can just eliminate enough bad behaviors or thoughts or actions, you will reach righteous nirvana whereby all of the answers will suddenly become breathtakingly clear. The problem is it aint true. It’s the same lie that fuels religion, a more acceptable, code name for self-help. Religion offers that if you can just get “good” enough, God will finally hear your prayers and help you or worse stop effing with you! It implies that all of your problems stem from something you are or are not doing. It seeks to eliminate your spiritual opponent and replace him with “you versus you” with you being the little devil on one of your own shoulders. And while the multitude spends their days embroiled in whether or not they are sinning or did sin or might sin, they have stopped living and succumbed to slavery.

Time spent in perpetual self-analysis is wasted time. It is pure futility in the truest sense of the word. As you probe deeper and deeper into yourself you will find only more darkness, more error, more problems. The Bible says that in your flesh dwells no good thing. It’s the spirit inside of you, once you become born again, that is good. All the rest is you succumbing to a cruel, evil master! All you will ever discover is a “natural man” with sin embedded in his blood line, lost and without hope; without God in this world! Analyzing and judging yourself, for whatever noble cause you have assigned it, is nothing more than you fighting against you. It’s you dwelling on everything that might be wrong with you in an effort to become a better you. Newsflash! You don’t get better by dwelling on and focusing on what is wrong with you. Instead you get weaker, more unsure, more doubtful and generally worse off than when you started. The world won’t tell you this because the world is busy hiding the real source of your problems.

Here is a deep thought! If there was no source of evil in the world, you would never have a problem. Life absent an adversary would work beautifully well in all respects. With no darkness there would only be light. But, this life is not absent an adversary! The adversary is ultimately responsible for every problem you have ever had. The treachery is found in convincing you that you are somehow the source of your own problems. If only you were better here. If only you made better choices. If only you could figure it out. If only your thinking was smarter… If only. Thinking this lie; a lie that has been drummed into our thinking, over and over and over, makes you the problem. It removes your spiritual opponent from the equation. Jesus never sinned, never stepped aside, never made a mistake, yet he suffered. You get it?

Self judgment, which if you’re honest, is what you are doing when you analyze yourself, divides you against you. It splits you up. It causes you to hate yourself. It persuades you to total up, catalog and tally every wrong you have ever done under the guise of making you do right. No-one gets better or stronger functioning this way. You cannot slice yourself into pieces and expect to be made whole. You cannot carve up your own heart and expect a healthy heart! This is the problem with Christianity today. Instead of turning their focus to God and His goodness, most Christians are obsessed with focus on themselves. And in doing so, they are easily defeated. You’ll never believe God to receive His promises with a head full of “what’s wrong with me.”

Your job as God’s lovely little human is to get your mind off yourself! Stop thinking about yourself, dwelling on yourself, analyzing yourself and judging yourself. Stop it! It’s not noble, it’s pathetic and weak! Instead just live your life. God, by way of His wonderful son, fixed everything that was ever wrong with you. He did for you what you could never do for yourself. That’s how wonderful He is, my friend! What He wants from you is a mind free from self-judgment, liberated from self-analysis and walking in the freedom that He gave you! You can read your self-help books. You can learn from anything. But, learn because you are already wonderful, blessed and accepted, no matter what you do or do not do!

You can break free from that nagging, irritating critic that lives inside your head, but it takes a commitment on your part. Stop indulging it. Stop accepting it. Stop buying into it! The troubles you are facing are so because you have a spiritual opponent that seeks nothing but pain and torture for you. It’s not you, it’s him! He gains access but what you will and will not think about; where you will and will not put your focus! Stop throwing up on yourself, wipe off your mouth and walk out in the freedom God gave you! There’s no such thing as self-help! It’s God’s help…

Just some good thoughts…