The Real Deal


WorldReligions-164107922-c72cce704d4d4521962046df4fa8ce3fI think all people have that little inkling inside that softly urges them towards finding out about spiritual realities. We have all sort of heard of God and maybe have some questions about who He is and why things happen the way they do. Unfortunately, when you begin your quest, you realize that there are so many choices out there to consider; all of them claiming to have a corner on the truth. So, you try this one and check that one. You go to your friend’s church, your parent’s church; try an online thing and maybe do some additional reading. The more you search the more you realize that each group claims to be right and has some shade to throw on the other groups. Assuming you are sincere in your quest, how would you know? How can you be sure you are making a good choice and not something that leads you down the road of heretical tyranny? Lord knows we have all heard of cults that start good then end dreadfully bad. Of course we have the Bible which seems like the logical place to start, but other folks have their own bibles as well, some as reported additions, others as completely separate works. Again, how could you possibly know? Well, I think there is one thing that all the counterfeits have in common and one thing that points you to the truth. The real deal is the truth and there is only one truth.

If you think about it, this whole notion that there are many ways to get to Ohio and it doesn’t matter which way you go as long as you get to Ohio, is fraught with flaws and errors. In other words, if your goal is to go to heaven and live forever, does it really matter which way you go as long as you get there? Well, it seems like the answer would be no if you ended up there anyway. But, would you end up there? Is it not possible that you are believing a bunch of stuff and doing a bunch of stuff to arrive at destination heaven that have nothing at all to do with getting to heaven? What if you find yourself caught up on some treadmill of required works to please God that have nothing to do with pleasing God? Imagine devoting your life and heart to some way of being only to find out that it wasn’t necessary at all? You know what I mean. Some of you aren’t eating meat. Some of you refuse to eat foods considered unclean in the Old Testament. Some of you abstain from alcohol. Some of you think sex is reserved for procreation and should be avoided whenever possible. Some of you believe you cannot expose certain parts of your body and on and on and on. The list; the requirements are endless. How can you possibly know? How can you be sure you are on the right track? How can you be sure what you believe is the real deal?

Delving a little deeper, it seems as if there is an absolute referred to as the truth, that there could only be one truth. The truth is the truth and it cannot contradict itself. There is one truth and accordingly the rest cannot be the truth and must be error. If you have the truth, why would you need additional truths or alternate truths? 3 x 5 equals 15 no matter how you want to slice it. Life would turn into chaos if the truth had many other faces and those facades did not agree with one another. It is not limited or ignorant to believe there is one way to go. There is one God and one truth and one correct way to believe. This false notion that there are many different ways to arrive at the same place has confused mankind for centuries. I have found there is one surefire method to help you determine if what you are believing is based on the truth or on error. There is one acid test you may apply in every situation. That test either points you to God the Creator of the heavens and the earth or it points you back to yourself. All counterfeit truth points you to yourself and what you do right and what you do wrong. The subject of religion is not God, it is you. The focus is always on what man does; what man says; what man thinks and not what God does, says or thinks. The real deal is God and the counterfeit deal is man’s ideas.

Whenever and wherever you find yourself in a group or an ideology or a church where the focus is you and what you do or don’t do, that place will always be wrong. The focus of Christianity will always, always be what God does (and did) and not on what man does (or did). The truth focuses on our Savior, Jesus Christ and what he did for us. Religion focuses on where you are not right with God; works you must do to make yourself right with God and whatever else they can come up with to keep you in perpetual bondage and condemnation. Look, I aint mad at your church and I aint coming at your belief system. What I’m opposed to are these options and ideas that aren’t helping you or leading you to anything good. The undeniable acid test is the subject of focus. What is the subject of focus? You know yourself well enough and I know myself well enough to be confident of one thing. If my ability to get to heaven, to know the truth, to experience goodness and blessings is dependent upon me, then I am in serious trouble (and so are you). You cannot get there on your own no matter what you do or don’t do. The more you focus on yourself, the more imperfection you will find. You cannot clean yourself up no matter how much discipline and  effort you supply. Only the Savior can clean you up and he did it for you before you were even born! The real deal is what God did for us, not what we do for God.

Look, ask yourself the question. That group you fellowship with, those folks you hang out with, that leader you have been faithfully following, do they lead your focus towards God and what He does and will do or do they lead your focus back to yourself and whatever it is that is wrong with you. Are you the subject? Are you the focus? Is there so much more you must do in order to finally please God? If so the chances are you are on the wrong track. People mean well, God bless them, but sometimes what they say and promote as true isn’t true at all. You cannot earn God’s goodness and you cannot earn your way to heaven no matter how hard you try. All of God’s goodness and blessings come to you when you believe what He did for you and not by what you must do for Him. The Savior (our Savior) died for you so you would not have to live that way any longer. Turn your focus away from yourself and your inadequacies and back to God and His perfection. There is only one way to go and that way leads to God and God alone. God is the real deal…

Just some good thoughts…

Advertisement

The Secret to a Lasting Relationship…


kids-sharing-secret2A short time ago, I had the honor to officiate the wedding of my dear niece. As my manner is, I like to provide the couple with some marriage advice individually and together. I shared with them the real secret to a lasting relationship and surprisingly it wasn’t only communication. I called it a secret because it is not the way most couples function. Do you want to know the secret? Read on.

If you think about it, people do not remain the same person they were as they grow and progress through their life. We all have both the privilege and the opportunity to make changes and if needed, modify our behavior. Similarly our interests and our desires also change. What appeals or holds first place to a twenty year old is vastly different than what appeals to a fifty year old. When people get married, their task is to unify two separate people towards one common purpose. Being married does not mean forsaking who you are as a person in order to please the other person. Instead the couple has to find a way to continue to be themselves and also function as a team. How absurd the idea of marriage would be if the goal was to turn into something or someone you are not. Doing so or attempting to do so leads to nothing but perpetual resentment on the part of the one being asked to be someone they are not. In marriage or any serious relationship the people involved have to be able to be themselves. In the world you may be required to play a role, but at home there has to be freedom and tons of acceptance. How many relationships fail because one or the other is trying to make their partner into something they are not? This, of course doesn’t mean there isn’t a responsibility to rid oneself of obnoxious behaviors or to modify and adjust as required. Modifying and adjusting are part of the essence of life. Usually that thing that bothers you about your partner, bothers them as well. Yet, similar to how God works with us, you don’t scold and criticize away bad behaviors. Instead you endeavor to make an appeal to that good part of the person. Being critical and demeaning may make you feel better in the moments of anger, but in the end it simply gives birth to bitterness. But most importantly and in concert with the “secret,” you have to allow your partner the freedom to change. Each day is a new day and offers a fresh start in order to get it right. But, your partner doesn’t have a chance to get it right if you are still stuck back on something from yesterday. Allow them to change. Allow them to modify. Allow them to adjust.

The secret to a lasting relationship is found when you learn to live each day as a new day. Relationships, marriages turn sour because one or the other or both are dragging around their perpetual, negative memories of the past. Living in this way just fixes your partner to one moment in time doomed to the consequences forever. Your partner may have transformed lightyears from the person you initially met and fell in love with, but you won’t ever be able to see and truly appreciate that transformation because you aren’t seeing them for who they are, but rather for who they were. Your image of your partner, your spouse is distorted and predetermined leaving you with nothing but the dredges of the past you are carrying about with you. Whenever I see couples (and I include myself in this observation) carrying on a sort of low level bickering back and forth, I know there are so many unsaid and unresolved issues from the former days still affecting today. And I always think, what a shame! How sad that you cannot even hear each other because of that backlog of, “How you always are and what you always say!” So sad. You remember when you first met? You didn’t have all those negative associations built up and you actually saw and heard your partner. All of us can change and sometimes in dramatic fashion. All of us can learn a new, better way to be. All of us can finally decide to stop doing the stuff that causes ourselves and others pain and blaze a new trail. All people need is the freedom to do it. Give your partner, your spouse, your lover the freedom to change. Let them be someone else instead of the image you have decided they are and forever will be. They are growing and learning just like you are. Above all, learn to accept them; their quirks; their oddities; their foolishness. Accept it. Quit wishing they would be someone else and love them for who they are. You may find as you focus on their goodness that there is a lot there for you to love. If you know they have a weak spot, why not cover it? Maybe they have strange views about things, well God bless them, so do you.

The secret to a lasting relationship and even life itself is to live each day as a new day. Don’t try to live in your future and for goodness sakes, let go of the past. Live in the moment, in the day, and look at things with fresh eyes. Do your best to quit reading into current situations with a bunch of old data from the past. It’s old and no longer useful. Look at your partner with clear eyes and a clear heart. Just because their responses to certain situations are familiar doesn’t mean they will always be the same. Let them grow and change just like you have grown and changed. You have finally figured a few things out and maybe they have also. That person you are with that knows exactly how to drive you nuts likely loves you more than anyone else does and for that they deserve a fresh start; a thousand fresh starts. Communication is vital, but pointless if you are communicating from the vantage point of the ghosts of the past. Live each day as a new day. It is the secret to a lasting relationship.

Just some good thoughts…

Win the Day!


FBHave you ever felt worn down like maybe you have run out of energy? Or maybe you are having a good day and something comes up apparently out of nowhere that seems to zap away your strength? Perhaps you just feel bored with life and can’t seem to find anything that turns you on. These sorts of things are common to human beings and we usually dismiss them as a product of certain circumstances such as not getting enough sleep or maybe being a little dehydrated. And while these types of things may be a factor in how you feel, what if there is more to it than that? We are all in a competition in life between good and evil and because of that truth, certain things are working behind the scenes to shape our existence and convince us of things that are not actually true. These forces work in the circumstances of life to discourage us and steal away our happiness. This competition takes place in our minds. When given access to us, in particular our thoughts, we begin to lose in the competition. For this reason, we need to win the day!

What does it mean to win the day? God designed life to be lived in day-tight compartments. In particular He said, you will have enough trouble with the difficulties of today that you don’t need to start rashly adding on the cares of tomorrow. The troubles that accompany today are the competition. Winning the day means taking the time to focus on the day at hand and not allowing yourself to be taken down the wrong paths in that day, ending in defeat. In other words, take the time and make the time to get things straight. When you feel good and suddenly find yourself agitated, something happened to you. Don’t dismiss it. When you feel as if life has lost its purpose and you are just going along to get along, something has gotten into your thinking (usually fear) and is calling aloud for remedy. These mental assaults which can be incredibly subtle, are endeavoring to work you over. Like thieves that creep in unawares, these thought bandits are hell bent on interfering with your experience of life. People waste days and months and even years wrapped up in some lying notion always predicting something dreadful in their future. But, they are lies from the author and originator of lies. These forces have been so successful in robbing people of life because most people don’t take the time and effort necessary to take them on. Unfortunately, most people aren’t even aware of where their thoughts are going and as such, live according to the dictates of another. Winning the day means first hearing the foul thoughts, then countering them with something that is true. You can do this and you must do this in order to win the day. It doesn’t so much matter where you have been, but instead where you want to go. When you find yourself miserable and defeated, chances are you have been losing and it is incumbent upon you to take a pause and set things in order. Win the moment, win the day.

It seems that people as a whole have been sort of tricked into looking inward when things go south on them instead of looking outward. Thinking you are the sole cause for every negative you encounter is a fool’s game. There is nothing wrong with you, despite your endless considerations. What is really wrong are the forces of evil working behind the scenes to bring you down. You are in a fight man. You are in a contest woman. It is neither neutral or benign. And it is certainly not just a matter of your perceptions which serves to remove the absolutes of good and evil and replace with them some kind of moving target no one can accurately identify. If you think it through a bit, thinking there is something wrong with you every time you feel down or lost or confused, negates the existence of spiritual forces that have surreptitiously led you to that conclusion. How can you be on top of the world yesterday and dazed and confused today? Indeed, something happened to you right between your ears and you didn’t catch it or address it. But, lest you lose all hope, there is something you can do about it. Win the day!

Sometimes I think we all need to slow down and get back in touch with our thoughts. Step off the treadmill where the rats are racing and slow yourself down. You owe it to yourself. When you are feeling off, give it some thought time and track down the culprit. Figure out what is assailing your thought life. I guarantee you behind the obvious there is something nagging at you, threatening you, accusing you and leading your mind away from the goodness of God to some other alternative. Take your mind and your thoughts back! Quit just accepting every ‘nutso’ thing that runs across your brainwaves. In the end, I think you will quickly discover some fear threat, some outlandish accusation about who you are, some rationale attempting to justify why you deserve whatever negative things are going on in your life. The claims of your personal adversary and mine are never true. You know, if there were no such thing as evil, something to look forward to in the future, your days would move along delightfully and with ease. You would feel good, do good and be full of joy and peace. But, today evil still exists and our duty in the competition is to fight back. God will help you my friend. Win the day!

If you want to live a good life you have to learn how to win in the competition. You win as you control your thinking and when you find it has gone south, you reign it back in again to where the blessings are. There is no sin in getting yanked off course, the sin is found when we refuse to fight back. Fight back and win. First win the moment you are in, then the next moments and eventually the day. Don’t add in the cares of tomorrow and for goodness sakes don’t waste time looking back. At the return of Christ, I wonder how much time God will spend showing us what was really behind our bad days and our good days. Slow down a bit and grab that unruly mind of yours and reign it back in. Find the promises of God that refute the lies and think those things instead. Your life, your happiness depends upon it. Win the day!

Open Wide Your Heart…


heart openUs human beings have this uncanny approach to life whereby we tend to acclimatize ourselves to our surroundings and habituate a large portion of our existence. When we were young, everything was new and exciting. There was a whole world out there to explore and we looked forward with excited anticipation to where we might find our place in the world. Then life happened and we stopped looking. We traded in our thirst for adventure for the familiar and the well known. As the years passed, unbeknownst to us, we began to put limits on our options and settled in for the mundane. We became slaves to our habits and developed a fixed mindset; a mindset that has little space for the unfamiliar, leaving us with a little too much familiar. The days became longer and longer and our new activities became less and less. Our quest for learning slowed to a standstill and much less our capacity for spontaneity. We just go too old and too afraid of the unknown. In this we closed our hearts off to life and suffered as a result of it. Life was never meant to be endured or survived, but rather a place for endless learning and new adventures. The reason we lost track of that life is because we let our hearts get hard, closed off from the true experience of living. Life never changed, we did. Open wide your hearts!

Living life absent the truth of God’s Word subjects our hearts to a host of wrong ideas, fears and hurts. In defense, or in an attempt at defense or self preservation, we learned to close off our hearts. The world can be a scary place and an open heart feels vulnerable and subject to pain. That same world taught us to harden our hearts, to lessen risk wherever possible and to play it safe. We were told to content ourselves with the mediocre and be thankful simply to be alive as opposed to really living. We thought we were getting wiser, but in actuality were being talked out of life. One by one our happinesses and enjoyments were curtailed in favor of the responsible existence. The messages, “watch out now” “be careful” and “be safe” became our new mantra. Young folks rarely make such statements as the world has not yet convinced them of the danger in everything. And while being reckless has its own painful lessons, adhering to nothingness is even worse. How do you get to the place where you go to work for someone else’s dream, exert your energy for that dream, then come home, go to bed and wake up to do it all over again? You can’t do anything fun on a weeknight because it is a weeknight. God forbid you go to work a little sleepy. Any fun that there is, is reserved for a few hours on the weekend. There’s not a category of life that hasn’t been diminished by some expert or had its dangers extolled and repeated. In this people cease to live and end up enduring the hours of their remaining life. 

The culprit most famous for closing hearts is always fear. Fear closes off all the outlets until all that is left is you stuck inside alone. One by one, fear takes something from you until you have nothing left. Fear steals your fun, your thirst for life, your love of learning, your energy, your time, your enthusiasm and your health. Fear always limits your options. Fear makes you choose three things instead of a hundred things. Fear sets your prosperity limits and your means to enjoy your life. Fear makes you poor both metaphorically and literally. Fear is behind the boredom you endure because it talked you into what you can and cannot do, always emphasizing what you cannot do! In a life so full and rich, with so much infinite variety of experience, there is always, always so much more. You don’t see it nor can you experience it because of your fear. Open wide your heart by getting rid of fear. 

The only way to life is to seek out the Author of Life. Don’t waste your time with religion or any practice that always aims at you and your imperfections. Instead seek Him who is perfect. Seek the very source of life and experience. And in order to find Him, though He be not very far from any one of us, you have to open your heart. You have to be willing to learn something new. You have to be just as willing to unlearn that great edifice of error that has been built into your mind. You have to rid yourself of fear with all that you are. You have to learn a new and a living way. Every one of your lost pleasures and your lost treasures can be found in Him. He knows the person you really are and all that He put into your heart to do. You have a purpose and your life has meaning, deep rich, enduring meaning. There is vastly more life to live than you have days left to live. You just have not yet been able to see it. What questions have long plagued your heart? What things do you so desperately need? What needs His restoration and healing power? Riches and honor are in His left hand and in His right hand, pleasures forevermore. Open wide your heart. 

The path to the life you wish to live runs through your heart. Open it back up again and let it heal. Give out that love and kindness you have inside and don’t reserve it only for the little ones. Be a wave of warmth and goodness to the people you meet and let your light shine. Be lavish in your praise and hearty in your approbation. (Thanks Dale Carnegie). Be the goodness you want to see in the world. Be the person, hurting people need the most and be it with your whole heart. All that you could have ever wished for in your life will come through your open heart. Open wide your heart…

Just some good thoughts. 

Cultivate a Healthy Heart…


guard-heart

Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow all the issues of your life. (Proverbs 4:23) Your heart, your innermost being, that great citadel of your life is formed by the thoughts you hold onto and persist with day by day. People rarely make the connection between the thoughts they entertain and the things that come to pass in their lives. Instead people think or conclude that life is random with some folks being lucky and others not so much. Sadly, they have never been taught that their heart, the things they believe deep down in their hearts, end up manifesting as the life they live upon the earth whether they be good or bad. The only thing that we human beings can control in our lives is the thoughts we choose to hold onto, to rehearse, to cleave to in our minds. Thoughts left unchecked and uncontrolled sooner or later result in misery as our minds are constantly being challenged with negatives and potentially bad outcomes. Show me a person that lives a happy and successful life and I will show you a person that has learned how to control their thinking. You owe it to yourself and your experience of life to learn how to control your thinking which always leads, just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, to a happy life. Cultivate a healthy heart!

Typically when I bring up this crazy notion backed by God’s Word, people think I’m talking about their perception of life and the things that happen to them. They falsely conclude that by controlling their thoughts I mean trying to remain positive about everything that happens to them. And, while that is partially true, what I mean in actuality is that the things you believe in your heart are the things you will end up experiencing in your life, not simply your perception of them. If down in your heart you have learned expectations of poverty and the inability to have your physical needs met, you will always have trouble getting your physical needs met until you get that wrong belief out of your heart. The wrong belief didn’t begin in your heart. You put it there by your continual thinking and considering things that are not true. You put it there, not God, not your family and not the devil. You, like all of us I imagine, were taught things that simply are not true. Welcome to being a human. I used to teach a course and in the course I told people the amount of money they earned at this very moment in time was exactly what they expected to earn, no more and no less. This usually incensed them. You see, it is much easier to blame our lack of whatever it is we need on someone or something else. But, at the end of the day, it is the beliefs we have in our hearts that set the limits of our existence. You can apply this principle to every category of life. People who play the victim and are always being wronged by someone in some way have some beliefs in their hearts that need to be repaired. I’m certainly not proposing that life is fair, instead I am proposing that God gave us control over something that impacts our lives in an incredible way. Cultivate a healthy heart!

The way in which you can change the things that are in your heart that you no longer wish to experience in your life, is by learning to think correctly. Every wrong thing that ever got into your heart, got there by wrong thinking patterns. The devil and all of his evil associates work very hard to get your thinking going in the wrong direction. If they can get you good and scared of some negative health outcome, in that you worry about it and fear it day by day, watch out brother because it is on the way! And while that is certainly not the cause of all health issues, it is a powerful way to speed up your decline. The people who live in fear of diseases get them. Your heart won’t necessarily help ward off every thing that assaults a person, but it sure can help you believe God for a solution when you need it. You and I have a duty to control our thoughts. This may surprise you but Jesus controlled his thoughts at all times. I’m sure he experienced those wild ‘randos’ like we all do at times, but he never let them take root and establish a foothold in his heart. He simply refused to entertain anything that was contrary to God’s Word and God’s heart for people. If you want to change some things that are in your heart, which you can clearly discern by repeat negative things that seem to keep happening to you, you have to learn how to change your thinking. You have to confront those negative things that confront your mind. When you hear yourself think something foul about yourself or about your future, grab ahold of it and challenge it. Find some promise of God that contradicts it and say that instead. Soon you will discover that you can actually control your thoughts if you want to. Ever heard someone say they cannot turn off their thoughts? Well, actually they can control them instead of trying to shut them off completely. You can literally tell your mind, we are not going to think about that right now because it is bed time and we can get back to it tomorrow. (smile) Your mind doesn’t control you, you control your mind. If it goes bananas on you it is because you have gotten used to letting it go bananas. Grab those bananas one by one and get it back under your control. It takes some work; it takes some discipline and it takes some perseverance, but you can control it or else God would not have asked us to control it. Controlling your thoughts is the only way to cultivate a healthy heart. Cultivate a healthy heart.

God looks on the heart. In fact, when God is at work in your life, guess where He is at work? He is at work in your heart. He knows that your heart basically controls your life and He tenderly works with you to remove those wrong things out of your heart. He sees the things in your heart that have long since been hidden from your view. He knows what you need more than anything else. It has been my experience that God is always very gentle with me and never runs roughshod across my heart. He just sort of clues me in to life’s realities and then suddenly I become aware of a wrong belief, some of which I have been harboring for many years. But when I know, I know and am always immeasurably grateful. You can have this same experience. God will show you if you want Him to show you. He will get you to the real causes which generally are hiding out down there in your heart. You can learn to think differently. You can begin to control your thinking. You can become aware of the madness that just slithered across your brain waves and snatch it up and kick it the hell out. The end result is a healthy heart filled with positive abundant beliefs and as such you’ll end up experiencing a truly abundant life. The time is now to guard your heart no matter where you have been because God always provides a way out. Cultivate a healthy heart. You won’t believe how good your life can become…

Just some good thoughts…

God is in the Details…


detailsThere’s a common expression used today, namely that the devil is in the details. Meaning, in order to track down the real source of problems and difficulties, you have to be able to look below the surface and see the things you haven’t seen before. But, if you really give it some thought, God is also in the details. You don’t have to look much further than the creation to recognize that details are very important to God. Too often we gloss over so many details and simply draw conclusions that are not true. We let a few cleverly planned circumstances and so called facts lead us in directions that are not the reality of a thing. The reality is what God says the reality is and everything that contradicts that reality is a lie. The devil has had thousands of years to perfect his craft and he is always counting on people to fall for the same tricks over and over again. Once you begin to learn that God is also in the details, you can begin to trust Him with the important things in your life. There is no part of your life that God is not aware of and He wants you to know that what is important to you is also important to Him. God is not too busy for you and He is infinite in His wisdom and His understanding. God is in the details…

One of the things I love most about God is that He looks on the heart of man. People, often deceived, think God is somehow concerned with everything they do wrong. How foolish to think you could separate yourself from your Creator because you used a swear word, chose a wrong path or acted with the wrong motive. God formed, made and created people and as such knows everything about them. Everything… Your human nature doesn’t escape God. He knows when you are being tricked and He knows what is behind it. I think people would have a much easier time wrestling with sin; missing the mark with God and all of that associated guilt and condemnation, if they realized that God is not deceived and sees quite clearly where you are being worked over and why. God’s heart is never to convict you of sin. His heart is that you learn which aspects of your life are causing you to miss the mark and as such, miss out on the blessings, prosperity and health that come from being on the mark. It isn’t morality for morality’s sake alone. It is doing things that don’t allow the enemy access to you and making choices that will lead you to your good. God knows all about you and still loves you. God has already seen your entire life through. He sent His son to save you (and me). Once you finally get past the sin issue (It is finished), you can really start to live for God. God looks on your heart. He knows who you are inside. He has heard your every prayer. He knows where you are strong and where you struggle. God is in your details.

The devil also is in the details. However, unlike God he does not know everything. He does not have foreknowledge and is certainly not infinite in his wisdom. What he is counting on is that you and I will behave like all other humans. His methods have worked for centuries and will continue to work. He plots and schemes and plans in order to present you with a picture of reality that is very hard to refute. (If it walks like a duck…) He works to close you off from life (and from God). He closes the doors, one by one and closes the windows, one by one, until finally you are alone sitting in a dark place convinced there is something wrong with you. He drives your focus back to yourself and your imperfections. He points out your flaws, reminds you of your errors and accuses you and your motives night and day. Yet, he himself and his cohorts, are behind your every flaw, your every mistake and every motive you have ever had that wasn’t good. These are the details we are missing. If there were no evil, there would be no sin. You did not make any mistake you ever made, no matter how grave, on your own. Every time you zigged when you should have zagged, you did so because of the influence of evil. That is certainly not to justify error, but rather assign the blame rightfully where it belongs. The devil was in the details, but God always is above him.

The real joy and beauty in life is when you begin to discover God in the details of life. He took the time to make that flower perfect in its perfection, but you think He doesn’t know what you need? He came up with electrical and chemical impulses that are able to tell your brain in a nano-second that you are touching something hot, in order to protect you, but still you insist on the idea that He is unaware of something you need, be it ever so small and seemingly inconsequential. I think often, the things you really need the most happen in your heart, which God both looks on and works in. You don’t need God to fix your circumstances. You need God to fix your heart, heal your heart, establish your heart. You need Him to help you track down those minute details, those bulwarks of error, those false notions you have been carrying around for years and years. I can always tell when God fixes something in my heart because my eyes react with tears. When I well up I always say, “thank you Papa” because I know you just repaired something for me. How foolish it is for us to reduce life down to such simplicities when it is so obvious how intricate and detailed the creation is; the creation God made for you and for me. There is a reason nature holds such a powerful appeal over us. We can scarce describe it or explain it but we know how much we need it. God does not content Himself with supplying our major needs or things we think most important. He seeks to supply our every need in every category of life. He sees your lonely heart and seeks to fill the void. He sees your fears and worries and seeks to make you feel secure. He sees your hesitation and encourages you to move. He sees what is behind your every problem and seeks to help you see and understand so that you can finally live the life He has given you. Indeed God is in the details.

There is a life available to us that is everything we always wished it would be. We have all had our share of heartaches and pain. We have all gone completely off the path and paid a price because of it. We have all spent years and years buried in sin and in the difficulties it produces. We have all been sick and suffered with imperfect bodies. We have all carried things in our hearts that are not true and led us to the problems we have today. But, we do not have to live that way any longer. God is in every detail of our lives and sees and knows all. He sent His son to save us and in his completed work we live. It does not matter what has gone on in your past. All that matters is today and the future life you build with God. God already knows the details and as such has a blessed life waiting for you. God is in the details. Enjoy your life today!

Just some good thoughts…

Enjoy the Life that is Now!


When God invented life, He intended for it to be a time of happiness, blessings and delight. In His original creation, man and woman had unlimited access to all that God created and He created it all for them. There was no pain, no sorrow, no sadness, no sickness and no death. There was no disruption in God’s provision for his precious people and everything they touched turned to gold. Then, something happened. Evil found a way to gain access to man’s heart, deceived and tricked them and eventually took away all of the rights God originally gave to man. From that fateful day forward, unto this very day, the creation continues to function in a disrupted, decaying state. Evil’s involvement resulted in pain, sorrow, sadness, sickness and eventually death. This is the life people live today. Instead of rejoicing in the experience of life, people settle for survival, unfamiliar with any alternative way to live. Enjoying and rejoicing in life doesn’t appear to be an option except for fleeting periods of happiness destined to return to the old familiar misery. Yet it is not necessary to live this way any longer. There is a life available to you that encompasses all that you could have ever imagined. It is the life God gave you to enjoy.

Jesus Christ lived God’s Word perfectly in a world subjected to evil the same way it is today. Jesus had no sin in his blood and by his freewill choices, never sinned or broke his unity with God. He obeyed God’s Word for mankind perfectly, a feat no other man had ever been able to do. And when he freely gave up his life for mankind, despite being the innocent blood, he paid the price for everything that was ever flawed or corrupted in you and me. By his sacrifice, he gave back to mankind everything mankind had lost when evil entered the creation. Once a person decides to accept his sacrifice by making him Lord in their lives and believing that God raised him from the dead, they become born again and receive God’s spirit inside, forever setting them free from the claims of sin and evil. From that day forward, the believer has the capacity to live the enjoyable and blessed life God originally had in mind for His people.

So you may ask, why am I telling you these things? I’m telling you this because people have been living far, far below par. People spend their entire lives in the grips of fear and uncertainty. Folks over occupy their minds with sin and condemnation, guilt and shame, all of which has been throughly purged by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. When Jesus said, “it is finished” just before he gave up his life, he meant it. What was finished forever was any need on your part to try and earn God’s love, protection and care. Good people work hard to be worthy before God and it’s a futile work. God made you worthy in the life of His son. Trying to do it on your own simply crucifies the son of God afresh. People have so many, many unmet needs but are afraid to go to the One who promised to supply all of their needs. Folks walk around with anxiety about everything. It’s no wonder they aren’t enjoying the life that is now. You are never going to be able to really enjoy your life until you let God be God and you content yourself with being you. Honestly, what problem have you ever been able to solve with all of your worry and fret? What guarantees do you have in your life outside of God? God never intended for you to live that way. The only way to enjoy your life, I mean really enjoy the experience of it, is to let God do the things He promised to do and you to simply keep yourself in a space to receive it. It is never more complicated than that. The real complication and perplexity in life comes from evil, masterfully manipulating people’s minds in a corrupted, broken and sad world. Endless causes. Ceaseless distractions. Perpetual shifting away people’s focus from God to everything else supposedly going on in the world. As if men that God made can band together and fix something God made. You are missing the enjoyable, blessed life.

And, here is the ultimate irony of the whole thing. You can have this life God promises right now in your day to day existence if you only knew it. It is already here for you to live. It has already been done for you. Your job simply is to accept it. Once you accept it and learn to trust God, you can start enjoying your life like a five-year old does at her birthday party. Like when you were a youngster, you can put your focus back on enjoying things instead of killing your joy with worry and concern. You can finally stop over thinking everything and for God’s sake (literally) let stuff go. You can open your heart and have fun in life. You can be vulnerable. You can share the love you have been burying inside. You can be perfectly imperfect. You can be flawed yet tremendous. You can be any damn thing you want to be because God has already covered you forever. Don’t you see it? You can stop waiting to exhale and rejoice in the life you get to live. Rejoice in it. Live it. Experience it. Prove it. Test it. You no longer have to be worried about what God thinks, He tells you what He thinks in His word and when it comes to you, it’s all good! So live your life now. Enjoy the life that is now. Rejoice and treasure the life that is right now. You owe it to the God that did so much for you to experience it. God ain’t mad at ya and neither am I!

Enjoy the life that is now…

Just some good thoughts….

Google Search…


google 2There are few things more helpful today than the ability to do a Google search. You can search for almost anything and 99% of the time you will find the answers that you need. Whether it be, “How to remove superglue from your counters?” to “Why isn’t the air conditioner working?” Google has the answers that you need. Google seems to encompass just about every question that you ask. The only place where Google seems to break down is when you find yourself in need of spiritual answers. Spiritual information either isn’t accurate according to God’s Word or else it’s mixed in with opinions, religious beliefs and a whole menagerie of guesswork which doesn’t really do the trick. For those times in your life when you really need an answer, you can do better than a Google search. You can go directly to your Creator. He is always available, knows the answer and is right 100% of the time.

One of my favorite times of the day occurs when I get up in the morning, brew up some coffee and sit down to write my, “Morning Pages” with my Heavenly Papa. Morning Pages, Julia Cameron’s brainchild, is taking time in the morning to record your thoughts and impressions about whatever is on your mind. It doesn’t have to be super meaningful or insightful, but rather an opportunity for you to clear things up in your head or at minimum identify your problems and seek solutions for them. For me, in my adapted version of the same, it is an opportunity to talk things over with my Father. It is a time for me to get clear about what is going on in my life. Often it presents me with a chance to unpack things things that have been stacking up and causing me to feel confused. Sometimes when I write there can be some complaining. Other times, I ask heartfelt questions and seek solutions and desperately needed answers. Similar to the psalmists, no matter where I start or how I start, before long the answers to my questions become more clear; I receive illumination and insights into which I formerly had no insight whatsoever. God sort of clues me in, in His quiet, perfect, very personal way. He often reminds me of something His Word says which always applies perfectly to my situation. Even my complaining and bitching is generally met with some further understanding about myself and when the problem is “indeed me oh Lord” coupled with a need for me to change my mind. Morning Pages with God is the ultimate Google search for spiritual answers to my spiritual problems.

Recently I found myself in a very challenging situation which I neither had coming nor deserved. Unlike times when I was the culprit of my own poor choices, this time it wasn’t the case at all. As I pondered my dilemma, talking it over on the pages of my journal complete with a good amount of anger and feeling like a victim, I suddenly recalled a section of scripture from Ecclesiastes which briefly states, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, not the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. Immediately it dawned on me that at times in life we don’t get the result we should have gotten because there is an adversary who is ever at work behind the scenes trying to obstruct God’s blessings and favor in our lives. Otherwise people would always receive exactly what they deserved. As I pondered this further, I was reminded that I am in a spiritual competition and at times a target because of my love for God. And though I still didn’t appreciate what happened, I was comforted in knowing that God always turns those things intended for my harm to something much better for me. In that I found rest.

On another occasion, as I wrote feeling particularly frustrated about the effort I was putting in to get something with apparently very little result, God reminded me “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” In other words, you have to persevere at times to get the things you want and just because you cannot see it right now, doesn’t mean it is not going to happen. It is part of the great contest also with forces working to keep you from your dreams, if you give up in your mind and let them win. Another morning, I wrote about how things were gathering steam and seemingly coming at me from every angle. My knee hurt, my back hurt, there was pulsing inside my head, things weren’t making sense and I felt overwhelmed like my needs weren’t going to be met at all. And as I thought about where maybe I was offtrack or in the wrong space mentally, suddenly I recalled a section from the book of James where God said to count it all joy when you find yourself in many temptations because the testing of your faith (from the enemy) produces perseverance which in turn leads to maturity, being complete and ultimately not being in want for anything. Again, because God is faithful, I saw that at times you are going to be under the gun, but instead of looking inward to find your faults and failings, it is better to remind yourself of the struggle of which you are a part and hang tight looking for God’s deliverance. In fact, James goes on to say that if any of you lacks wisdom (knowing what to do) let Him ask God who gives generously to all without finding any fault. The moral of the story? Ask God the questions and allow Him to give you the answers. Sometimes your answers come quietly from within and at other times you will get them in other ways. God is not limited in His means for providing you with what you need. In fact, often when He answers you and you know it, He will remind you that you asked Him just so it is extra clear. (smile)

If you have lived life long enough, you already know that you have questions from which you have not yet gotten an answer. Google hasn’t helped you with these questions or maybe served to confuse you further. There are things deep inside you that no-one else knows about except you and God. God knows your every need from the smallest to the greatest. God has the answer to every question and He will not withhold it from you. Your job is simply to ask the question and then listen intently for the answer. When something breaks Google is your best friend, but the broken things in your heart and life are going to need something better. God is the something better. Far, far better. Just ask!

Just some good thoughts…

Harmony


harmonyIt has taken me many years to learn what I’m planning to share with you tonight. What I’m about to say is for all the people who yearn to see the power of God in their lives. It encompasses a little known secret crucial for the Christian man or woman who dreams of living the more abundant life promised in the Bible. As you may have already noticed by now, there is more to being a believer than simply getting born again, though that in itself guarantees a life that will last forever. But, what about the here and now? What about the joy promised in God’s Word? What about actually getting your prayers answered and having access to God’s power and His goodness in our day by day lives? Many Christians, sadly, talk of God’s ability and willingness to help them, yet fail to realize those promises in their experience of life. And absent any results, seek to explain away their shortfalls by assigning mysterious reasons for the lack such as God having a higher purpose and so on. God’s promises in His Word are very real and He desires above all else that we obtain all that He has lovingly promised us. The secret is found by getting in and remaining in harmony with God.

Harmony or fellowship with God is something we must do with our minds. The contest that rages day by day takes place in our minds. The thoughts we think and continue to think matter a great deal. We literally remain in harmony with God by that which we choose to think about; that which we choose to refuse and those things that harmonize with God’s Word. Every time we entertain thoughts that are not in harmony with God’s Word, we limit God’s ability to work in us and for us. The more we entertain these negative thoughts, the less harmony we have with God. Negative thoughts serve to separate us from God in our minds. Once we have accepted our Lord and Savior and believed in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead, we have God’s seed born within us. Nothing can separate us from His love and care. His love for us remains unconditional and there is nothing He won’t do for us. But, and it is a very big but, we can become separated from Him in our thinking. Wrong thoughts convince us of lies such as “God is angry with us” or “God is punishing us with negative consequences because of our sins.” These falsehoods burrow themselves deeper and deeper into our subconscious minds. It is never that God is unwilling to meet our needs, no matter how poorly we may have behaved, but rather that we lose our confidence in Him. We get out of harmony with Him and His Word. Living out of harmony with God is the reason our prayers are not answered. Being out of fellowship with God is why we feel miserable and defeated. It is never good works of righteousness we must do to get back in harmony with God as our Savior solved that problem forever. (It is finished) Instead it is our minds. We have to learn how to get our minds back in harmony with Him. Every time you and I get fearful, which is darkness, we are out of harmony with Him. Every time we persist in condemning ourselves for some sin Jesus paid for already; every time we judge ourselves; every time we deny who God alone has made us to be, results eventually in broken fellowship with Him and from that dark place we cannot access God’s power that we need so desperately in our lives. Again not because He is unwilling, but rather because we, by our own thoughts and actions, are not in fellowship with Him. Harmony with God is the key.

Think of harmony with God as your relationship with Him. (Not His relationship with you that never changes.) In order to have a good relationship you must remain loving and open in your heart to the one you seek a relationship with. In the human sense, once you begin to harbor negative thoughts about another person or assume their negative thoughts concerning you, the relationship begins to suffer. Instead, loving relationships assume good intent. Loving, trusting relationships expect good things from the other person involved. When outside things begin to influence our relationships, we become less trusting and loving and begin to harden our hearts towards the ones we love. We seriously doubt they have our best interests at heart. We look for and expect more and more trouble. This is exactly how we get out of harmony with God. God is good always and never is the source of our difficulties, ever! Instead we begin to harbor negative views towards Him. We start believing and thinking things that are contrary to God’s Word. We ask for His light while we sit in the darkness. Instead of resting in His promises to us, we are full of doubt and worry about getting any result which almost guarantees we won’t get any result. The problem isn’t God. The problem is our failure to get in and remain in harmony with Him.

Being in fellowship with God, where all of the power and results and answers for life are found, requires that we do something different with our minds. We have to learn how to renew our minds. We have to put off all of that pervasive darkness we have been cleaving to and think God’s Word instead. We must consciously change our thoughts that are contrary to the truth back to thoughts that are in harmony with the truth. You know why? Because it is the truth. The rest is all just error playing out in a thousand different variables. For example, God promises to preserve our health and if we need it, restore our health. That truth will be challenged with sickness, disease and anything else that is contrary to it. We will find ourselves very tempted to get afraid and worry and fret. Doing so is believing the darkness and will result in our getting out of harmony with God. When we are out of fellowship with God, heaven is brass and nothing happens, despite our heartfelt prayers. The solution is to get back in harmony with God. Simply say, “Papa, Im sorry I got so afraid and I choose instead to believe what your Word promises me. Thank you for healing me.” Now you are saying what God’s Word says and now you are back in harmony with Him. In harmony with Him, in the light, is where God’s power will be found for your life. Naturally you will be tempted with many other things that challenge the truth of God’s Word in your mind, so you must follow the same process time and time again. If you get out of harmony, get back in as quickly as you can. When you recognize your mind has gone south, get back into fellowship with Him. When you feel miserable and defeated, get back into harmony with Him again. You find God in the light.

The more than abundant life promised in God’s Word is dependent upon you remaining in fellowship with God. The more you stay put, the better your life will become. God is not after your pleasing works done to persuade yourself you are worthy in His sight. He wants your heart. He wants your freewill love. He wants to do for you ALL that you could never do for yourself. He is your Father. He is your Papa. He never judges you and He always wants the best for you. Stay in harmony with Him in your mind. Remember what He has already done for you. Find out who His Word says you are and replace that old image you have been carrying around with you. You don’t please God with your good works. You please God by believing His Word. Cultivate that close, endearing relationship with Him and let Him do for you beyond all that you could ever ask or think.

It is that good. He is that good.

Just some good thoughts…

Control…


iStock-1055448892.2e16d0ba.fill-735x490It doesn’t take too many negative circumstances before it becomes apparent how much of our lives we don’t actually control. Oh we think we do! We drive ourselves bonkers trying to think through every possible variable to maximize our chances at success. We plan and exercise diligence. We read up and study, and if it’s dangerous, we put in extra time. And all we are really after is some safety and some security. The illusion of control is what sends a person over the edge when they fall victim to a robbery or something worse. We all like to feel secure and we all seek out circumstances that aid in that pursuit. But, have you ever considered how much of our lives we actually do control? Or, to put it another way, are we spending maybe too much time trying to control something that we never controlled in the first place?

Certain things happen in our lives that we didn’t see coming. People get sick or are diagnosed with diseases that despite their best efforts in maintaining healthy habits, happened anyway. People lose their secure jobs and find themselves unemployed. Time and chance happen to them all, as the saying goes. When these events happen, I think it teaches us that our reliance cannot be based entirely on our human efforts. Sure we should do our best and we all know that if you play with fire long enough, you are going to get burned. But, some folks do play with fire and nothing seems to happen at all. Other folks cannot seem to catch a break. This alone instructs us that there is often more to situations than meets the eye. There are forces at work outside of us, perpetually plotting and scheming to bring about negative results. For this the world is usually blind. Instead people try to take on more than they can actually control and are the worse off because of it. You can literally worry yourself to an early grave. You can be so afraid of some potential negative outcome that you end up working to bring it to pass in your own life. There must be a better way. There must be something we can do to multiply our chances for success while minimizing our chances at failure or defeat. Notwithstanding, all of us are going to be punched in the mouth at times and how we respond will ultimately define the result of the contest.

If you really think about it, was is it that we actually control? We cannot exercise control over the economy. We do not control health or healing. We can make healthy choices, but we do not control it. Physicians do not cure, they help facilitate cures. We do not control the weather. We cannot control mechanical things or ensure their continued operation. Ask anyone whose air conditioning goes out in the middle of summer. We alone cannot guarantee our children’s safety. We cannot guarantee anyone’s safety. We cannot control the people we have relationships with, though we are loathe to admit it. In short, most of life, most of our lives we do not control at all. Why spend another moment in futile worries and frets over things we never controlled in the first place. Why run the multitude of foul thoughts through our minds threatening this disaster or the next? Why drive ourselves to the brink making sure we do everything in the right way and at the right time, terrified if we misstep that calamity is right around the corner? There actually is Someone that has control over every variable and we owe it to ourselves to find who He is and then relinquish all back over to Him. Grasping and clutching, hanging on and clinging to our illusions of safety do nothing but exhaust us and take our energy for doing anything good. Relinquish the control you have been trying so desperately to maintain and learn how to trust Him instead. Do your best and let God do the rest! Or as life has taught me thus far, God will do His best for me despite my efforts, good or bad. Maybe the good just helps me feel better.

There is literally only one thing we as humans can control and that is our thinking. (Please read that again!) Stuff is going to come at us. Negative events will take place. At times, we will suffer losses. But, no matter what is going on, we can still control our thinking. We can decide, though all hell paints another picture, that what God said is true, is true. The enemy of mankind is the master of deception. He seeks to persuade you of things that are not true so that you will cooperate with his devious plans for your life. If you don’t fold, you cannot lose as another great man once remarked. Your job, my job is to stop wasting away our lives thinking about things that are not true and focus instead on things that are true. All of your very best thinking does not heal your body, God does. Your discipline of will does not cause you to prosper, God does. Your tortuous exercise routine doesn’t guarantee your longevity, God does. All of that mind boggling stuff you are putting yourself through day by day in an effort to be safe, to stay safe, does not keep you safe, God does! Controlling your thinking means keeping things straight in your mind. You control what you will and what you will not think about. You decide what you will believe and what you refuse to believe. If God can feed one of His guys with a raven, I am sure He can take care of you. Instead of investing all of that effort in your to do list, invest that effort in learning what He says He will do and then in learning how to trust Him. Can you imagine how much easier your life will become when you finally let go of all those things you didn’t control anyway? Control the one thing you can control and see how much better things get for you.

God knows all, sees all, is omnipotent and all powerful. Shoot, He can see the future! He knew what you needed long before you knew. He made provisions for you well in advance. He knows how to heal you. He knows how to prosper you. He knows how to solve all of your heart needs; every single one of them. He is everything you will ever need. And, all He wants from you is your love. He wants you trust Him. He wants you to reach out to Him and lay your heart out before Him. He doesn’t need your good behaviors, He wants your heart. His design for life was that you would go to Him for everything you ever needed. He knows all of the variables and His thoughts are above, far above your thoughts. He wants to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. When you finally turn it all over to Him, you can rest a bit. You can relax. You can start to enjoy your life instead of wasting it away worrying over a million things you cannot control. And best of all, when negative stuff happens to you, He will turn it around for your good and show you things you could have never imagined before. He is a God of abundance and it is all there for you.

Loosen your grip brother. Relax your hands sister. God is in control no matter what it looks like. Control the one thing you can control and see how wonderful this life can be.

Just some good thoughts…