You and God, Are You Good?


19_0130_DISCIPLESHIP_Remembering-Your-Confidence-in-Gods-Goodness_1021x640-696x436I often recall with great fondness that time in my life when I first began learning about God. It was in the Spring of 1982 and I had been attending a fellowship with the sweetest people I had ever met. In May, I took a class called, Power for Abundant Living, that literally changed my life for the better. In that 3 week long course, I learned so many things about God from the Bible that seemed to be the polar opposite of who I thought God was and who people said God was. Based on His Word, the Bible, I learned that God was good only and that He wanted the best things in life for me. I learned that He was tender and kind and always on my side. I followed His instructions from the book of Romans (Romans 10:9-10) and got born again, born from above. With my newly found spirit inside, I learned how God would work in me, never over stepping my free-will and teach me things I couldn’t even conceive of before. Best of all, I learned how He was now my Father and that I was His son for eternity. There’s really no comparison for the sweet fellowship I enjoyed with God as my Father during those warm times of learning and growth. God and I were good, really, really good and nothing stood in the way of our family relationship. So, when it comes to you and God, are you good?

Sadly, over the years, our relationship started to change. It wasn’t God who changed towards me, but I had changed towards Him. Some of the folks I was hanging around began to add conditions and rules that were not a part of my early experiences. What was once completely free and based entirely upon God’s grace, turned into behaviors I had to perform to be okay with God. The wrong teaching turned my focus inward and suddenly it was all about what I was and was not doing. Slowly and somewhat imperceptibly, I began to morph into one of those guys that everyone hates to be around, the religious guy. I was so overly focused on my own sin and shortcomings, that I was hard and critical with everyone else. For me, it was no longer about God’s undeserved and unearned goodness, but instead it was about me living for God in ways that others could approve of and endorse. What was once so intimately personal and perfect, became tainted with the commandments and doctrines of men. The odd thing about this, when it happens to you, is that you don’t really see it taking place. All you know, is that what once free was no longer free and the cost associated with the required new life was perpetual misery and a lack of confidence in the One I was supposed to trust the most. Heaven was brass, as the saying goes, and down the slippery slope I traveled. This experience happened for longer than I would care to acknowledge until I finally had the good sense to break away from the folks I once trusted with my life. Some of you perhaps know what I’m talking about. So, when it comes to you and God, are you still good?

Years later, much like a recovering alcoholic, I had to get honest with myself about how I had been living. Instead of relying solely on what men said, I got back to the true doctrine that had once set me free before the bondage set in. I saw again, on the pages of God’s Word, that Jesus Christ had lived a perfect life with God, so that I would not be required to try it myself. I learned again how God had solved the sin problem for me forever and that all that I had or ever enjoyed in my life was completely based upon God’s grace, given to me freely based upon the accomplished works of His son. I relearned that God was not angry with me for my shortcomings; that He wasn’t following me around accusing me concerning my every failure. Instead, like the best imaginable parent, He was lovingly guiding me back to His heart, back to His unconditional love. And, like a flower blooming in the springtime, I started to recover and grow and blossom. I had much unlearning to do and still do at times, but throughout it all I remembered again who my Daddy really was and that He wanted me to enjoy my life. I saw His hand of blessing realized in my life and in the lives of my family. I finally was able to see that it was never about me and what I was and was not doing in my life, but rather what my Father in heaven was and is doing for me; for the people He loves so deeply. It became so clear that what seemed to be good to be true, was so good because it was true. He lovingly and patiently taught me what was really behind my downfall and that the source of my difficulties was an opponent I could not see, working behind the scenes to drown me in religion and the principles and philosophies that man made up in one form or another. It became so strikingly obvious that the practices and teaching not based on the grace filled life He called me to, were error, the same error that makes people hide from God and His kindness; man made doctrines ever focusing on man’s acts and man’s experiences instead of the truth of God’s Word. Once you know, you know and life gets better in a hurry. So, when it comes to you and God, are you good my dear friend?

The truth of Power for Abundant Living still lives in my heart some almost 40 years later; the truth about God and who He is according to His own Word, the Bible. His clarion call to the heart of man is to learn of Him and who He truly is for us, to us and in us. It’s the promise of a life with indescribable peace and assurance. It’s a life filled with abundance in every category of life. It is the constant awareness of knowing you don’t have all the answers, but you know the One who does. It is healing and restoration and repair whenever needed and however needed. It is forgiveness and mercy that has no end point. It is just he greatest possible life there is and it’s there for anyone that wants to learn. You may be just starting out on your journey with God or you may have enjoyed your life with Him for many years now, but either way there’s no denying that life with God is the life He always intended for it be for His precious and beloved creations. So, when it comes to you and God, are you good? Is your relationship filled with happiness and joy and love that has no end? If not, it is always there for you if you still want it.

As for me and God, we are good, so so good…

Just some good thoughts…

Walking in the Mud…


Cog Railway

“Some days you’re the bug and some days you’re the windshield.” “Some days you’re the dog and some days you’re the hydrant.” “Some days you’re the hammer and some days you’re the nail.” I’m sure we have all felt like that at times. Some days for some inexplicable reason everything feels hard and laborious compared to days when everything feels effortless and easy. Just what exactly is going on when we feel hindered and pressured and annoyed? Is there some cause we are unaware of? Is something conspiring against us? Is it all in our minds? What makes us feel, at times, like we are walking in the mud?

Our minds, leading to the great citadel of our souls, serve as information registering machines. Whether we can appreciate it or not, whether we are conscious of it or not, our minds are not only thinking thoughts (which we will address later), but are also reading and analyzing cues in our environment and seeking to make sense of them. Our mind picks up every audible word said or sung even if we aren’t aware it is happening. Behind everything we watch and observe are messages to be interpreted and understood. All day long, you and I are being fed a steady stream of opinions and ideas about life and about how the world works. The mediums that man controls are chock full of man’s concepts and notions and things that have an appeal and things that are distasteful to man. Some things are good and useful, while others are subtle, evil and hurtful. Conversely, the mediums that God employs (think nature) contain messages that calm us and set our minds at ease. Even the colors God has chosen elicit a certain response. You cannot stare at a flower for very long without feeling a sense of wonder about how it came to be; how so much intricacy could be contained in something so small and so temporary. Years ago, our sources for information were far less complex and limited in scope. We still had access to bad news, but it wasn’t all around us. Today, through the marvels of modern technology, we are consumed with a perpetual stream of things to peruse and read and to consider. Many of the messages we receive seem to escape our reasoning altogether, yet their effect is felt in our hearts. There are images concerning what we should look like, where we should live and the kind of fun we should be having. There are more philosophies than there are stars in the sky, happy to inform us of some supposed truth concerning our existence. In this, we find ourselves bogged down without apparent cause. Due to the speed and variety involved, we missed the message, the one that served to assault our happiness and led us astray. Sometimes you find yourself walking in the mud because of the codes you were not able to crack; the ones that escaped your reasoning mind. There’s a reason people feel the need to take a break from social media!

Much of what mires us in the muck comes from the thoughts we are knowingly or unknowingly entertaining. We think so many thoughts in a day, the prospect of controlling them all feels impossible. Yet those thoughts we fail to control; to accept or reject, often lead us to a dark space. Thoughts of sickness and disease are so subtle, so slippery, so hard to perceive, that we miss them altogether. It’s not that we weren’t conscious of the thought, but rather that we let the thought go without feeling the need to challenge it. A funny feeling in your stomach here, an odd pain in your side there and before you know it you are feeling glum and despondent. It’s not that you’ve stumbled upon the precursor to a disease, but rather the fear of its potential existence has entered your awareness. Maybe it isn’t something to do with your health, but rather your finances. Maybe it’s some pending trouble or difficulty reportedly on the horizon. Whatever it is, however it gained access, it is still a thought, not a reality, and what you choose to do with it leads to how you will begin to feel. If your habit is to let things go, those things you let go will mount up and gather momentum. You likely don’t realize it (yet) but something or someone has stolen away your peace of mind and feelings of assurance and safety. With all of that going on in the background of your thinking, it is no wonder you feel tired and despondent. Behind all of the trouble, just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, will be some fear, small or great, seeking to take away the happiness that is and replace it with the threat of what might be. It isn’t that bad things are preparing for you, but instead your interpretation that bad things are preparing for you. Some poor folks have only ever lived this way. You find yourself walking in the mud by your failure to pay attention to and to challenge your thoughts; those thoughts that predict or promise loss for you in some capacity. You have to hear it in order to do something about it. That’s what controlling your thinking is all about!

As unpleasant as it is to consider, there is evil working behind the systems of the world to bring you hardship and pain. All of us find ourselves confronted with this reality. Man has brought this evil upon himself by the choices he has made. Yet, God has not left us without remedy. In the same way that a loving parent warns their child of impending danger, God warns us concerning what is at stake in our day by day existence. The reason He asks us to control our thinking is because our minds are the battleground of the great competition. The way that evil gets involved in our lives is by the thoughts we consider and then unknowingly hold on to.  The more you cleave to and consider some great fear, the more the likelihood of “its” appearance in your life. Conversely, the more quickly you recognize and refute the fear, typically by refusing to consider it any further, the less likely it is to have any impact in your life. That is the fight we all find ourselves in. To think that God has already assigned us some dreadful fate or for that matter some great benefit, is to take away our sovereign free will and our ability to choose. For God’s goodness to be fully realized in our lives it must first be held on to then deeply considered until it enters our heart (that great citadel) from whence our lives flow forth. In order for some catastrophic fear to play out in our lives, it also must be held onto and deeply considered until it enters our heart. Choosing properly what you will and will not think is the crux of the contest, the great competition in and for our minds. Sometimes, you find yourself walking in the mud because you are under attack by things you cannot see, but if you hold fast to what is true, not what might seem true, you’ll find yourself moving out of it.

Do you feel like you have been walking in the mud? Are you stressed and annoyed and agitated? Has the spring gone from your step and the things you used to enjoy become hidden from your view? Don’t despair for another moment. Take some time and get yourself quiet on the inside and think about what you have been thinking about. What is going on back there, looming on the horizon of your thoughts? What fearful considerations have you knowingly or unknowingly entertained? What have you been feeding your mind? What are you watching and staring at and observing so intently? And, if it still remains completely buried from your view, ask God to show you what it is. God is faithful and all clarity of heart and soul comes from Him.

We all find ourselves walking in the mud at times, but we don’t have to stay there.

Just some good thoughts…

The Happiness Quotient


HappinessImage-1Husbands just want to make their wives happy. Mothers wish above all things that their children would be happy. Therapists advise their clients to pursue the things that make them happy. Work performed by people in harmony with their heart’s desires makes them happy. Overcoming great challenges, winning in conflict, improving and succeeding all generally lead to happiness. As thinking and feeling human beings, happiness is always near the top of our priorities and when we aren’t happy, nothing serves as a substitute for it. Gobs of money, grand successes, glorious homes, exotic cars and fancy yachts are no reward for the person who isn’t happy. Happiness is such a primary part of our human existence that we cannot survive long without it. Some folks seem to be happy in every type of circumstance while others cannot seem to find happiness in anything.  Happiness is always subjective and varies from person to person, yet despite the variety involved is universal in its application. Why are some folks happy consistently, while others seem unable to locate it? Is happiness something that can be measured and analyzed to be improved upon or is happiness rather an internal interpretation present whenever we decide it will be? What is your happiness quotient?

Anyone who has lived any length of time will tell you that happiness isn’t something you can purchase. Lots and lots of people with lots and lots of money are quite miserable to say the least. Yet strangely, some folks with truckloads  of money are very happy. Conversely, some folks with very limited resources are sublimely happy, while others spend their days cursing their existence. On the surface alone, it’s obvious that material resources don’t contain the lynch pin for happiness. But, those same resources can certainly contribute to or when absent, detract from one’s happiness quotient. It seems it’s not the things that are responsible for your happiness, but rather your interpretation of those things. Objects have no meaning outside the meaning you have assigned them. Thus, the first step in figuring out your own, personal happiness quotient, to produce more of it, is to figure out just what is going on in that mind of yours. How are you interpreting the events that make up your life? If your interpretation is wrong or perpetually negative, your happiness will be limited no matter what else is going on. If you have been so schooled to see the wrong in everything, cynical, critical and wary of any good continuing, you cannot reasonably expect happiness to follow. Complaining of not being happy while thinking and doing things unhappily is an absurd proposition. Similarly, waiting for happiness to appear unwelcome by pervasive foul thought is an exercise in futility. Happiness won’t suddenly one day show up at your door, it already dwells inside. 

When you really try to break down the components of happiness, one thing is very clear. Happiness is present when unhappiness is not present. You cannot be happy and unhappy at the same time. You have to choose one or the other. However, you cannot somehow choose happiness and happiness will appear. That sounds good, but it lacks the proper substance. The irony is that choosing to be happy does not really make you happy. Instead true happiness appears when you have successfully eliminated the causes of your own unhappiness. Happiness isn’t a treasure you stumble upon and find. Happiness is the reality behind the things that are obscuring it or hiding it. When you feel as if you are not safe or not okay or are powerless against the perilous dangers of the world, you won’t be happy until you find the solution to that problem. Happiness isn’t about floating along mindlessly oblivious to the things that are happening all around you. Happiness is problem solving or at least being willing to entertain the notion that there might be something you don’t already know! For all of the complexity involved with us as human beings, we are incredibly simple when it comes to how we feel. And despite our many differences, we all need the same basic things. Happiness comes when we learn how to get those uncomplicated needs met. 

If you are honest, you know when you are not happy and you know why. Even when our happiness is being stilted and we don’t think we know why, a little reflective thought will usually reveal the answer. However, sometimes the answer is not something we are willing to entertain. But, if it is blocking your happiness, it is worth thinking about. One great thing that generally happy people have in common is their willingness to work towards solutions to their problems, knowing there are always solutions for their problems. People spend half their lives unhappy with their spouse, yet adamantly refuse to do anything about it because, after all, it’s them and not me.  Such refusals to see things for what they really are serve only to perpetuate unhappiness. At the end of the day, it is your job to believe to find the solution to your problems, no matter what they are. Living with and accepting problems is a guarantee for unhappiness persisting. The more you can eliminate the causes for your unhappiness the happier you will be. The more you assign outside causes as the source of your unhappiness, the more unhappy you will remain. 

Happiness in its stripped down reality is really a sense of contentment and safety and assurance that our needs will be met. It is the soul of a person that has ceased from his own works and learned to rely upon another. Happiness is no longer trying to be the sole source of your own needs being met and trusting someone greater than yourself to supply those needs. God is that someone greater than yourself.  God never intended for you to figure out life on your own and your resultant unhappiness is the measure of where you fit along that scale. Again, if you are honest, most of the big problems of life you aren’t going to be able to solve by yourself. Trying and working and toiling to do so won’t get the job done. You can be sincere and a hard worker and tireless in your endeavors, but the things you need the most don’t come from your own efforts. True happiness resides in the heart of a man or a woman who has relinquished their endless fears and worries to someone who can actually do something about them. Real happiness comes when you stop fighting against the reality of things and line yourself up with what is rather than foolishly trying to do it your own way, with your own limited human logic, within the confines of your own mind! Happiness reveals itself after the obstacles to its existence have been removed. Joy appears following a complete and absolute trust in your Heavenly Father to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. The happiness you so desperately seek comes from doing what God said to do, which is simply summarized by believing what He said and thereby thinking and acting in the way He recommends. He won’t ask you to give up anything but your fear, the one and only great hold back impeding your happiness. 

I find myself the most happy when I simply trust God to do the things for me He promised He would do. No matter how things look or whether dark clouds are lining up, throughout it all I know that God will do whatever He needs to do to take care of me and in that I can rest, content, assured and excited about my future with Him. You want to maximize your happiness quotient? Then get out of your own way and learn about the One who invented happiness and knows exactly what you need in order to experience it. Oh my friends, God exists for you…

Just some good thoughts…

How to Get What You Want…


Have you ever taken the time to figure out what it is you want most out of your life? The question, so simple yet loaded, isn’t really as complicated as you might imagine. I often muse that it’s not that we don’t know what we want, but rather that we don’t want to admit what it is. We sort of go with the flow and head down the paths that seem easiest to navigate. In this, we don’t really choose, but instead grab at the first option, always consoling ourselves with the notion that we can figure it out later. Yet, many, many years later we find ourselves on the same old path, just further down the road a bit. It’s as if actively choosing a destination leaves us vulnerable to the possibility that it might not happen. So, instead of actively pursuing our dreams and all the risk associated with it potentially not coming to pass, we settle for something less. We work jobs we don’t enjoy in career paths that seemed the most logical in terms of being sensible, yet miles perhaps from the those things that make our hearts sing. Inside, deep inside you know what you want most and you can realize those things in your life if you will simply be honest about what turns you on and have courage enough to go and get it.

Most people, sadly, live their lives in accordance with other people’s dreams, never really giving themselves permission to go down paths unique to them. Instead they choose approved paths; accepted paths; well-worn paths where the masses travel. They’re afraid to make their own paths for fear of failure or disappointment and in so doing fall in line with societal expectations, safe choices, and generally rubber stamped options that help someone else realize their own dreams. They give their life and energy and effort to working in exchange for money; money that is always not quite enough to allow them to forgo the burden of having to continue doing the same. They do so because the lion’s share of the profit is reserved for those taking the lion’s share of the risk and in their aversion to the risk (fear), the cycle persists. In America and maybe other first world countries, it seems we have all bought into the idea that the vast majority of our life is to be spent in activities we do not enjoy for those rare intervals of respite and freedom to do what we want. And logically, in our leftover time, we don’t have the wherewithal to do anything else. Our best effort, our prime time has already been promised to another. We find ourselves caught in a trap that we cannot find a way from which to escape. We fault the wealthy for their wellspring of free time, yet wish we had the same. We dream of houses and vacations and fun and freedom, but never quite believe that we can have them. Instead we settle for our lot in life, which really isn’t our lot, but instead a well designed scheme to keep us in place, in line and unfulfilled.

We think it is money or the lack thereof that keeps us bound never entertaining the fact that we ourselves are our own limitation. The man;  the system; the wheel of things isn’t what keeps us from achieving or realizing our dreams, we are. Somewhere, somehow, we have been coerced into believing what it is we can and cannot have. We set limits where there are no limits. We dismiss our innermost treasures as fanciful and get right back to the business of slaving away for the things we do not hold dear. We act as if our lives were predisposed to move in one direction; with one set of options and an already established final outcome, as if God has destined us to do so. We are half talked out of any new endeavor before we have even taken the first few steps. When doors open for us, we are afraid to walk through them or waste away the opportunity researching the pitfalls of moving in the new direction. We don’t get what we want because we don’t believe we can get what we want. Even when we have good ideas or begin to touch upon those things whereby we can have the most impact and be the most fulfilled, we move so slowly and with such fearful caution that we seldom have enough time left to get the job done. It isn’t that we do not know how to get what we want, it’s that we don’t believe we can actually get what we want. Instead of doing, we spend time all day thinking and dreaming, wishing and hoping. Someday we can have it, but not today.

The only way you can get what you want in life is to believe that you can. As long as you don’t believe that you can, it is not going to happen for you. It’s not first about putting the time in, paying your dues, being patient or anything else anyone has told you that eliminates the necessity of believing for yourself. Belief, real belief always has corresponding actions associated with it. Belief is not waiting for the future, belief takes action now. Belief does not wait for all of the circumstances to line up, belief challenges and thereby changes the circumstances. Belief is not dependent upon the right degree or winning the lottery or any contrary thing that says you cannot have or cannot do for any reason, but believes and does anyway. Belief, positive expectant belief is the forerunner to all success in every category of life. You will go as far as your believing takes you and you will not go as far as your believing takes you. And, no-one decides what it is you can believe except you. No-one…

It is never too late to realize your dreams in life. It is never impossible to get the things you want; the things you hold most dear. Quit waiting and wondering about it. Stop stewing and brooding and being so damn fearful about things not working out. Those thoughts haven’t gotten you anywhere good yet anyway, have they? Life, this frightfully short life, isn’t about wandering around wishing and praying for those things that would make your life complete. The life you want to live is available for you to live once you finally stop standing around and decide to do something about. Do something now. Think about it. Pray about it. Set some positive expectations, make some plans and begin to pursue it. You aren’t getting any younger. Go and get it. You already know how. Believe, then for God’s sake, act!

Just some good thoughts…