Religion And God (Are they the same thing?)


Let me begin by saying I’m not trying to bash your religion or the things you hold most sacred. I’m not making a case for one religion above another religion. I’m not saying everything your religion has taught you is wrong. Instead, I’m asking you a question; a question that may spell the difference between happiness and freedom and misery and obligation. Are you sure the things you do and say in the name of God are in alignment with what God says about Himself and your relationship with Him? Are your religious beliefs and your belief in God the same thing?

In my experience, religious people seem to be the most unhappy people on earth. They live and move and have their being ever fraught with some nagging sense of disapproval from a god whose requirements they can never live up to. They are guilty and condemned, always apologizing, always wrong, always convinced that what they do and say is inadequate and fails to measure up. They endeavor to live an impossible code with pleasures perpetually questioned and good times requiring caution. They sincerely love God but they conclude God doesn’t love them. They are compelled to answer every accusation. Their motives are constantly under the microscope. In short, the people who should be the most blessed are often the least blessed with even the unbeliever outpacing their achievements. Yet, they love the God of all blessings. How can this be?

The problem is found in not understanding the things that are important to God versus the things that are important to men. Religion’s aim and focus is always man and what man does and what man doesn’t do or that he shouldn’t do. Religion’s promise is the glorification of man’s acts and man’s experiences. In religion, men judge other men based on their behaviors and pronounce one man righteous and another man sinful. Religion seeks to elevate some and reduce the others. Religion is hard, damn hard! Religion teaches people to doubt themselves in favor of another’s opinion. Religion smacks at the heart of God because it is not based on what God says. Instead it is based upon the doctrines and commandments of men. God provides a good way to live and religion adds to that good way by introducing requirements that God never intended. Religion puts burdens on men’s shoulders. There is no love in obligation. That which you do that you do not want to do becomes a compulsion from which no-one gets blessed. Giving without love as its motive becomes religious duty where I scratch your back in the hopes that you will scratch mine. It’s an exchange wherein you now owe me something. For centuries, men have engaged themselves in rituals and observances that make no sense to them. Yet, they continue in them despite it.

I say these things not to anger you, but rather to ask you to think for yourself. If doing God’s will is so miserable, then wouldn’t that make God miserable (God forbid!). Do you really believe that God is bland and rigid and narrow? Would it make sense for Him to be opposed to enjoyments that He invented the capacity to enjoy? Could He, being all-knowing, be illogical or whimsical? Would He ask you to believe in something you could not understand, or worse try to make good things out of evil events? Our problem, our failure is in discounting our human logic in terms of common sense. Would someone that reportedly loved me at the same time torture me or confuse me or punish me? Would He do inexplicable horrors to me and my family for some reason I can’t yet understand? You see, it’s not God who told us these things, it’s religion. Religion requests that we suspend our common sense in favor of so-called higher spiritual realities. Religion begs us not to think at all. In this way, religion controls and limits our experience of life. Men and women are herded together on paths leading to failure and loss. When something bad happens to someone, religion points that wrong back at man and how man is living or not living. Pretty soon you become responsible for all of the evils in your life instead of the true cause of your unhappiness and loss. Religion sucks man and I feel sorry for anyone who has gotten sucked into it.

In stark contrast, the things of God make perfect sense. The things of God aren’t opposed to science, they are the forerunner to science. Someone made this world with all of its detail and symmetry. Someone invented the concept of love and forgiveness and kindness. Someone dreamed up the notion of human beings. Do you think you can surprise or shock God with your behaviors and the things you come up with? Is that sexual desire that God built into you really evil or just wrongly expressed? You see, religion gives God a bad rap. It turns Him into something silly and capricious. It makes Him impossible to please and not a loving Father at all. It turns your focus away from the God who alone can deliver you and places it back on yourself where you by yourself are powerless to do anything about your difficulties.

I offer these words in the hopes you can hear what I’m saying and be set free. All of those burdens you are living under; all of that guilt and condemnation; all of that focus on your own imperfection and weakness is not God’s will at all. Instead He asks only that you turn your focus towards Him. Don’t suspend your logic, use your logic! Maybe all that super hard work you have been doing to get to heaven isn’t a requirement to get into heaven at all. Maybe all of that denial of self and pleasure and fun wasn’t something God said, but instead something that people say. What good is a Savior if you still have to save yourself? Why would Jesus have paid for your sins if you still needed to make a payment? The ways of God, the true ways of God never hurt but only help you. God is a Father and no-one loves His children more than Him… You can escape the bondage of religion if you want to and it starts and ends with God. Is religion and its dictates the same as a relationship with God? God forbid…

I love you.

Just some good thoughts…

The Self-Focus Trap…


Assuming you are a logical person, it would appear the more you focus on yourself, the happier your life would become. So much is written concerning the need to take care of yourself, refuel yourself and make time for yourself and most of it is probably good. But, what if incessant focus on yourself produces the exact opposite results than you intended? What if your focus on self can actually be detrimental? Is it possible that your sincere focus on improving yourself actually impedes you from making any progress? Are you looking in the right direction or have you unknowingly become distracted? Is perpetual focus on self a trap?

Most things in life that cause us to stumble do so because we are unaware of the true cause and effect relationship at play. We spend our lives trying to rid ourselves of some negative effect by focusing on the wrong cause. In so doing, our efforts are squandered away chasing apparent realities that are not realities at all. We exert tremendous efforts to remedy our situation but find no remedy, not because life is too hard, but because we have the wrong focus. This is the very essence of deception. We fall prey to it so easily because we trust what people say and laud those opinions over the truth. We trust our always self-centered logic and conclude we can figure it out. We are loathe to admit that we cannot! If you have a problem and let’s face it, we all do to some degree, it is so because we have not yet touched upon the right solution. In earnest, we seek for a solution and subsequently apply a hundred-fold recommendations, never entertaining the idea that the solution escapes our comprehension. In this, we waste our lives and our time caught up in an endless cycle of error, working harder, trying harder, exerting more effort towards something that will never yield the right result. In short, our starting premise is wrong as evidenced by our inability to find the answer; the real cause of our problems.

It has been said that the things man produces always reveal the imperfections of man, while the things God produces have no flaws in them. No matter the human masterpiece, closer inspection reveals imperfections. Conversely, the things God makes not only have no flaws in them, but the closer the inspection the more perfection is discovered. Similarly, the more you seek to understand God, the more His perfection becomes apparent. Yet, the closer you inspect corruptible man and his ways, the more imperfections you will find. When you spend your time dwelling on and investigating your human ways, no matter how noble your motives, the more you will find your own imperfections and flaws. You will never find perfection within yourself, no matter your sincere efforts and arduous labor. Instead, you will find more and more not to feel good about and more areas of your life in need of revision. You think it is noble and pleasing to God that you spend your life trying to make your imperfections righteous, but your starting premise is already wrong; namely that you by your human efforts can make your imperfections perfect. In this, you waste your time and in this you waste your life. How many Christians spend their days in endless self examination, ever condemned and disapproved, ever conscious of their human flaws and shortcomings, ever defeated by an insidiously wrong starting premise? To the mainstream Christian, every action is wrong, every thought corrupt, every motive questioned. All enjoyments are to be examined and all concepts of fun are to be rigorously discarded and rejected. Yet, in this they persist to their own misery and lack of true fulfillment all based upon a starting premise that isn’t true; that was never true.

God’s job is to fix the things we cannot fix for ourselves. We were all born with a sin nature that is easily corrupted. Our natural tendency, after the fall of man and the introduction of sin to mankind, is towards error. It is in our blood. The more you search within yourself, the more apparent it becomes. Yet, instead of investing so much effort to fix it, we need to let God fix it for us. God’s solution for us was to provide a perfect man, without sin in his blood, who by the freedom of his own will, walked and lived God’s Word perfectly. He is our savior who saved us from ourselves. He ended the need for us to fix ourselves; repair ourselves and SPEND All OF OUR DAYS FOCUSING ON OURSELVES and everything we do and don’t do right. He made it possible for us to stop dwelling on what isn’t right with us and change our subject of focus to Him and what He did for us. We are right because He (not we by human efforts and hard damn work) made us right in His sight. And as contrary to human logic as it appears, our focus is to no longer be on what isn’t right with us, but rather on who God and what He made us to be.

Sounds so simple because it is true. Our job, your job is stop focusing on yourself and stop working so hard to figure out your own problems. Read that again! You won’t figure out these life dilemmas; these life suckers by your human intellect and strength of will! How has it been working for you thus far? Instead, give your issues to God, one by one and let Him do God’s job by getting you to the real solution. He already knows the real cause! In so doing, now you are beginning to think how God designed you to think! Self-focus and dwelling on self do not produce the results you desire. They just steal away your life and enthusiasm and energy on false causes you cannot truly effect. Get your focus off yourself and your issues and get God involved with your solution. Self focus is a trap from which God will gladly help you escape… Free yourself!

Just some good thoughts…

When the Dust Settles…


You know, it’s no marvel that many folks spend the majority of their lives living from one turmoil to the next. The world and its negative circumstances, the impending and ever present threats concerning the future, the agitation and tumults of daily life, all loom on the horizon assaulting folks minds from sunup to sundown. And all of that turmoil and distress has one important object in mind, namely to prevent you from seeing clearly and discerning properly. Imagine how different your life might be if you could cut through all of the distractions and really see. What would you do differently? What would you do if the dust settled?

Most people, and you know it’s true, live and subside on a steady diet of fear. Fear of sickness (got one in mind), fear of not having enough, fear of not measuring up or being pretty enough or not having the right body. Fear of not getting their needs met, fear of something bad happening to them or someone they love. Fear concerning the planet or the sun or the melting icebergs. Fear of not being loved and feeling love and missing love. Fear of the future, fear of the past coming back to haunt them, fear of being present in the moment. Fear all day every day from the moment you wake up in the morning until you lay down your head to sleep at night. People have subsisted on fear for so long that they no longer even recognize its presence. Fear has been normalized as part of life. Fear drives and drags people around in its wake pushing and pulling them in directions they never intended. If people manage to escape its grasp temporarily, they quickly fall back under its spell. Fear rules the world and the systems of the world. Often, very often it has ruled you! Yet for all that power fear holds over people (and its very powerful), at the end of the day, it is all a grand, cleverly designed illusion to control the hearts and lives of people. Fear is the dust that prevents you from being able to see.

Clarity of heart and mind is the missing ingredient in an unfulfilled life. In order to move confidently in the direction of your dreams, you have to be able to see. You have to be clear about who you are and what you want and where you are going. You have to cut through that mountain of clutter obscuring your view and discern just what the hell is actually going on. The world with its teeming masses clamoring after this novel invention and that new threat to their existence live the majority of their lives unclear and confused. They fail to get their honest questions answered. They live their lives perpetually attacked by an opponent they can neither see nor feel. They pray to a God they neither know nor understand. They plod along herded and corralled into wrong thought camps with no possibility of escape. It never dawns on them that there is a part of life they have yet to experience for themselves. They conclude they’ve already reached the end, figured it out and can choose wisely on their own. Yet, they cannot and they cannot because they cannot see! It is only God who is able to make the dust finally settle so that you can see and He does it with the light of his Word. Absent the Word and the truth in life, you are destined to a life of fear whether acknowledged or not.

Once you begin to get some truth into your heart and life, things become very clear for you. It starts to dawn on you that many things that are said and done as truth are in actuality cleverly, crafted lies. You begin to be able to discern both the good and the evil influencing your life. You start to understand how life really works and stop wasting your time striving to things of no avail. You quit working so desperately hard to fix yourself or to improve your bad behavior or to keep grinding at all costs to make something good of yourself. You see, the world presents to you a picture of life with suggestions in how to improve it. Yet, those improvements, those efforts, those arduous solutions are not solutions at all because they center on you for you and all about you and they deny the God that made you! Absent God and His love you will never be able to really see. You will simply be blown about with every wind of doctrine, clamoring to try this new source of help and that empty promise of the answer you need. It doesn’t work and it never has worked… Real life isn’t all about you (or me) but is about the God who created you. He is your only true provider and your only genuine source of help. He has the answers you need. He offers the healing that has no limitation. He knows and understands your heart; has heard your every prayer and wants to set you free from fear and its attendant misery. He is your promise of love and goodness and peace. He alone has the power to make the dust settle so that you can finally see clearly and can understand His wonderful, sincere and perfect will for your life!

This life, as you already know quite clearly, can be very tricky to navigate. You will daily be deluged with thousands of opinions and ideas and suggestions. You will be confronted with both evil and counterfeit good. You’ll be presented with a myriad of potential beliefs all offering something they cannot truly give. Yet, when all of the shouting and the clamor stops, when all of the fighting and tumult is ceased, when all of the falsehood and error goes away, when all of the pressures and the agitation subsides, behind it you will hear the still small voice offering you the clarity you have always dreamed of and then you will know the dust has settled at last.

Just some good thoughts…

 

A Fresh Start…


 

The past version of you no longer exists, except in your memory or someone else’s memory. The only moment you can occupy is the moment called, “now!” Everything you have ever said or done is passed away making way for today. Your mistakes, your failings, your errors, your missteps gone…all gone. Your successes, your victories, your triumphs are also gone, though you savor fond thoughts of them. You cannot live in the past no matter how sublime it may have been. You cannot change any elements of the past, no matter how much you wish you could. Life was designed with an ever present opportunity for a fresh start! We need it…

We all develop this idea about who we are and we cleave to that image be it good or bad. Inside you are still that awkward teenager worried about his place in the world. Some of you are that guy that usually fails in his endeavors because he has always failed in his endeavors. Some of you are still that little girl masking her insecurity and working feverishly to appear confident to others. Some of you are unlucky and never catch a break. Some of you struggle with relationships and they just never seem to work out. Some of you never have enough money. Some of you are always sick.  And no matter what, some of you cannot stop struggling and never seem to figure things out. The question that begs is why? Is it your destiny? Were you chosen by God to suffer the most in order to make you better? Is life unfair and out to get you? Again, the question is why? You’ve been carrying around some false image of yourself for years and years, desperately cleaving to it and not recognizing the things that no longer serve you. You need to give yourself a fresh start!

Have you ever considered how foolish it is to hold on to the things of your past? You did whatever you did when you did it because that is where you were at the time. We are all at some point on the learning spectrum and we all have more to learn. Holding on to some negative aspect of yourself as if it is truth is in reality insanity. It’s insanity because it fails to take into account where you have changed and where you have grown. It is being falsely affixed to some past moment in time, not by anything other than your own thinking and your own images of yourself. You have not been chosen for failure. You fail because you keep making the same choice. You cling to sparks and specks of your existence that represent only a minute portion of your experience. You have the exact same opportunity to be the polar opposite of what you are experiencing as you have to be a carbon copy of that same experience. You are living in and living out days gone by. You are not making any modifications but expecting a different outcome. As a great man once remarked, “You cannot solve your problems with the same thinking that caused the problems in the first place.” Each day is a brand new day and you need a fresh start!

When you give yourself a fresh start, you refuse to keep yourself held down under the burden of your past. Just because you did something a thousand times does not mean you have to keep doing it or keep thinking it or keep accepting it as true. If it hurts your life, if it limits your opportunities, if it holds you back in any way it is simply not true. It is error skillfully using your own thoughts and memories against you. They are false conclusions, false assumptions, false pictures of reality that are not your reality at all. They remain only as your past realities in which you foolishly participated and continue participating perhaps. When you give yourself a fresh start, you get to breathe in the fresh air of opportunity. You begin to challenge those assumptions you have held onto for many years. People live in a misery of their own design. They are entrenched in a script they are writing for themselves. They beg and plead for a change, yet wait for the change to come from somewhere else. Change in your life only happens when you change. What is it that you are habitually thinking about yourself that hinders your progress? What sad, defeated stories are you telling yourself about yourself? What failures and losses do you persist in imagining? It’s your head and it is your heart from which proceeds all of the issues of your life. You have to change your heart and then the circumstances will change. Until then you will be thwarted by a monster of your own making; of your own choosing. Grant yourself a fresh start!

I often think the reason God made days to be separate 24 hour periods is because He wanted to give us endless fresh starts. Every day is a new day pregnant with chances for something good. When you awake in the morning, the day is brand new and never existed before. Anything can happen in that day; things that change your life and heart and your experience forever. Your job, my job, is to embrace the day. It’s not the same old – same old, it’s new and fresh and exciting. It’s a day for you to decide who you really are and be now done with that skeleton of a past. It’s a day for you to look forward, not backward. It’s a day for you to decide and no longer have your choices made for you. It is the day the Lord has made for you to rejoice and be glad in it! What a glorious fresh start that is…

My dear friends, it does not matter what happened to you in the past as that time, however frightful, is gone forever. What matters always is today in the moment called, “now!” Start fresh and stay fresh and see if your life won’t change for the better. God is giving you a perpetual fresh start!

Just some good thoughts…

Get Back in the Game…


There was a time when you were incredibly enthusiastic about life. You had your dreams for the future and felt that your possibilities were absolutely endless. You woke each day excited about your future and what you might contribute to the world. Maybe your enthusiasm continues to this day. But for many, sadly, this is no longer the case. Many folks have resigned themselves to the sidelines, not dead yet, but not in the play. What happens to us that so artfully talks us out of our dreams? Who convinces us to give up on the things we so desperately want for our lives? How can we, no matter our years, get back in the game? 

Everything you ever wanted in your life, you can have, if you can believe for it. Life and circumstance aren’t responsible for the limitation. God isn’t behind it, no matter how many Facebook memes claim otherwise. It isn’t your background, your education or your upbringing. It’s you, my friend. The limitation, if there is one, is you. It sounds simplistic, but it’s true. In the final analysis, at the core, at the very root is you and what you believe in your heart. The reason you don’t get the things you want is because you don’t believe you can have them. Your friend, who is ten years younger than you and makes three times more than you, does so because he believes he can. He isn’t highly favored or lucky, nor was he born with a silver spoon in his mouth. In his heart he believed he could and in so believing did. You can achieve the dreams you have for your life, many of which God put in your heart, if you can believe you can. But, believing is a process and sometimes that process takes time. The devil cannot stymie your dreams or take them from you, absent your cooperation. You cooperate by adhering to and believing all the evidence to the contrary. In short, you get talked out of it. Achieving your dreams will never appear to be easy, but will come with obstacles and challenges you must surmount. Neither the obstacles, nor the challenges can stop you from receiving, unless you give up on what it is you want. You are not in the game because you gave up on yourself.

In the game of life, no one puts you on the sideline except yourself. The coach didn’t bench you. God didn’t bench you. You benched you! You gave up. You surrendered. You decided along the way that you were not worth (or worthy) of the things you want. Oh you weren’t functioning in a vacuum.  Your ideas, your beliefs, your expectations were influenced. That influence, call it what you may, succeeded in getting you to believe and accept something that isn’t true. It chipped away at you, day by day, week by week, year by year, until it convinced you to settle for something far less than God’s best. Maybe it spent considerable time outlining how your previous bad behavior disqualified you from receiving something good from God today. Perhaps it persuaded you that your efforts were futile and that you didn’t make any impact worth pursuing. Possibly it just distracted you and got you caught up in activities that wasted your time and didn’t lead to anything. Whatever happened, however it happened, if you are sitting on the sidelines and not in the game, it happened. There’s no point in lamenting how it happened to you. The solution is simply to get back in the game!

You get back in the game by remembering again the things that are most important to you. What is it or was it that made your heart race? What do you well that is easy for you to do that could benefit others in some capacity, that you foolishly stopped pursuing? Where and in what is your impact obvious? Start there… Maybe those things aren’t clear enough for you yet. Instead, what parts of life do you no longer participate in? Life, if left unchecked and unguarded, has a funny way of reducing things down to the bare minimums. Over the years, a thousand interests turn into a hundred interests, then to ten interests, ending in no interests. Who took away your interests? What gave you a reason to give up on your interests and convinced you that you had seen and done it all? Who stole away your uniqueness and individuality? What persuaded you into believing that you had nothing left to offer; are now too old, or that it is too late for you? It’s bad enough that we all have to die one day, but worse that we can die before we are actually dead. 

Your life, my life, is frightfully short. Frightfully short! You owe it to yourself and to God to live your life to the fullest. Get outside your own head. Quit stewing and brewing over whatever has gone on thus far and check yourself back into the game. Challenge those age old assumptions you have been making about yourself and your situation. Challenge those limitations that say you can’t. Get up off the ground, dust yourself off and check back into the game! The same way you unknowingly checked out, the same way you can check yourself back in again. Try something new. Make a new friend. Pick up a new hobby. It’s not really about your age or your energy level. It’s about not giving up on yourself and believing to see where your life still has the capacity to make a lasting impact on someone else. Every single day of your precious life holds the promise of something wonderful. But, it’s not going to knock on your door and find you. You have to find it, though it was never really hidden from you to begin with. Have you been living on the sidelines hoping, wishing something would change so that you could live again? That something is you and it always was you. Get back in the game! We all need you…

Just some good thoughts…

Self Talk…


Human beings, unlike any other creature, contain this wonderful capacity to say things to themselves. It’s called self-talk. Inside, where no one else can hear, you can engage in your own internal dialogue whereby you say things to yourself, about yourself, concerning yourself. We all do it. The question is, what sort of things are you saying to yourself? How are you treating yourself? Are you being kind and patient with yourself or do you scold yourself for your shortcomings? Do you allow yourself the privilege to be human or are you harsh and overly critical with yourself? It’s time for some real honesty about the relationship you have been having with yourself! How is your self talk?

As you move about in the world, chances are you treat people the way you have been treating yourself. If you find yourself being critical of everyone and everything, it is a sure fire indicator that you have been levying that same criticism against yourself. If you have been angry and full of frustration towards others, you must be angry and frustrated with yourself. All of those emotions and negative feelings got their start somewhere. Their origin can be found within. Similarly, you cannot really love other people until you love yourself. You cannot freely forgive other people without first extending that forgiveness inward. Your behaviors and actions towards others are always a direct reflection of what is going inside you. As crazy as it may sound, you are literally in a relationship with yourself. You aren’t just you acting, absent anything going on inside of you. And, like any relationship, it is either maintained or damaged by how you communicate; by what you say. What is it that you are saying?

There is absolutely nothing positive that can come out of berating and chastising yourself. It just doesn’t work. Who do you know that got any better as a result of being severely castigated and rebuked? Sure, we all need correction at times, but hurling insults towards yourself and outlining, in order, all that is wrong with yourself is a recipe for failure. If you chew yourself up and spit yourself out, who is left behind to pick up the pieces? If you insist on opposing your own self, who is left over to fight for you? In the final analysis it is aberrant behavior and it comes forth from evil. Every single animal in the animal kingdom knows to fight for itself and protect itself. Animals do not work against their own best interests, but people do. But, when people do it, it is unnatural. Something, somewhere has gotten to you. Something has been working to turn you against yourself. Once you finally figure that one out, you have a chance to change it. Here is a welcome newsflash – every wrong thing you have ever done; every mistake you have ever made; every hurt you have ever caused; every dum dum thing you ever got caught up in, happened because of evil influences outside of yourself. If there was no such thing as evil, those influences would not exist and absent their influences, you would always make a better choice. Don’t you see it? All of that self torture you have been inflicting upon yourself is wrong on an epic scale. It is not noble or humble or pious, it is evil working within you to defeat you! If God be for you, who can be against you?

You must, in the absolute honesty of your soul, stop doing that to yourself. Stop opposing yourself. Stop speaking and doling out cruelty towards your own self. It is enough to stand against the endless accusations and judgments of the world without cooperating by endorsing and supporting it. I think you wouldn’t dare say the things you say to yourself, to other people. Yet, inside it is just another thought, spoken without any real consideration. Well, consider it! See it for what it really is. Look, if you had a friend whom you loved, what would you say to them? When, in the honesty of their own soul, they shared the negative things they thought about themselves, wouldn’t you challenge them? Wouldn’t you encourage them and point out all their good parts? Wouldn’t you extend your heart to them and offer how much you loved them? Wouldn’t you? Well, what about you and your own heart? Couldn’t you, at least, do that for yourself? Couldn’t you remind yourself that you are a work in progress; a human being with flaws and weaknesses? Couldn’t you give yourself a pass at times? Couldn’t you chalk it up to learning and give yourself a fresh, new start? Of course you could and you most assuredly should? You’ve got enough to stand against and oppose day by day, to try and accomplish it divided against your own self. Can’t you be a little better towards yourself?

One of the greatest defeats a human being will ever suffer is what happens when a person allows themselves to be talked into actively opposing their own best interests, to live in perpetual and active opposition against themselves. Every time you put yourself down; every time you speak harshness to yourself; every time you chastise and berate yourself, you are simply cooperating with your own personal adversary in severely limiting and hurting yourself. You have to learn how to be kind to yourself. You have to be patient with yourself. You have to get off your own back and encourage yourself towards a more worthy endeavor. None of us like it when we blow it, when we fail to measure up, when we fall short of the person we know in our hearts that we really ought to be. None of us. But, if you are honest, you know the only way to do better is to be better and we accomplish that by choosing carefully what we say to ourselves. God is on your side, even when you aren’t! Change what you have been saying to yourself and let God clean up the rest. How has your self talk been going lately? I hope it is full of love…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Keep it Moving…


The peculiar thing about life is that it only moves in one direction. All living things are in a constant state of flux. Nothing stagnates and survives. Like time, life can only be played forward and the key to your success is to keep moving ahead. Failure comes not so much from making mistakes as you move, but your failure to move altogether! Keep it moving!

You were designed by your Creator to live and move and have your being! (Acts 17:28) You have your days that you might live them, be done with them and enjoy the prospects of the new ones. As the sun travels across the sky ever moving, you travel through your life ever moving also. How many times in your life have you been exhorted to “move ahead” or to “move on?” The essence of that sage advice is that you cannot afford to sit still or to dwell in some long since past event that you can neither effect, live, nor change in any way. Cleaving to the former days; to your former enlightenment; to the former good days when life was “simple” is always a deception. It’s a deception because it is based on a perception you no longer entertain. Back then you were who you were back then. Today you are who you are today. Sure you may have enjoyed a certain innocence, but you also suffered many bruises as you gained perspective and learned your lessons. There’s nothing more sad than to see a person desperately trying to cleave to a period long past. Doing so concludes that today no longer holds the promise that yesterday held. Instead you must move ahead embracing your special memories, recognizing the influence they had on the person you are today. You have to keep it moving!

Moving forward keeps the barnacles from adhering to your deck! Things that have stopped moving corrupt and rust. Similarly, when you stop moving forward, for whatever reason, you also begin to decay. A stagnant pool is so because it has no influx of new water. Soon it begins to stink and becomes a breeding ground for disease. What has stopped you from moving in your life? Was it some catastrophic event? Was it some epic loss that rendered you forever incapable of experiencing life again? When the patriarch David’s son died, despite his enduring grief and emptiness of soul, he knew he had to wash his face and move ahead. It didn’t serve to minimize the tragedy of his loss, but instead afforded him a chance to continue to live. No matter what has happened to you, painful as it was and is, you have to find a way to move ahead.

The great enemy of life lives amidst a perpetual scheme to stop you from moving forward. He probes and plots to produce the conditions that cause you to stagger and stop. The lion roars to freeze his prey! The adversary, through fear, roars to stop you in your tracks. As long as you move ahead, he cannot pounce. But, fear will impede your forward movement. In reacting to and considering the devilish proposition, your forward momentum begins to slow. As you slow down, you begin to recognize more and more from which to be afraid! Now, sitting there frozen in fear, life becomes a living hell. The only reasonable solution is to move forward. Do something! Take action on the thing that is making you so fearful. Go to the doctor. Take the test. Have the conversation. Do something. Have you ever noticed that often in the midst of great stress and anxiety, moving your mind forward in some other activity often helps you to gain perspective? Go help someone. Move your thoughts in a different direction. Let whatever it is go for a minute and focus your attention elsewhere. Fear is a human conundrum from which it can be very difficult to escape. When you are afraid life slows to a standstill! How long the night lasts wrapped up in some worried, anxious concern. Instead of participating in an endless game from which you cannot escape, give the situation to God and move ahead! Make your mind move ahead!

In order to live the best life, in order to gain the most from your days, you have to determine yourself to keep moving ahead. You find yourself distracted for three months concerning some dread and suddenly for whatever reason are able to let it go, only to find that the thing you so ardently dreaded never happened anyway! But, you sacrificed three months in the process. Although you found a way to win, you still lost precious time along the way. You have to learn to live the day fully and not carry it into the new day. Move ahead. Let the past go and be now done with it. Keep it moving. Quit looking back and look ahead. As you move, God moves with you. In the new day you are free to be whomever you want to be. Why continue carrying around that dead carcass of the past? Today you have fresh new perspectives. Today you have opportunities unlimited. Move, move, move ahead!

We are all in the same boat together folks! What has scared you has scared me also. You have your scars and I have my scars as well. Those scars may remind you of a painful time, but they don’t have to hurt anymore. Often things heal the most rapidly when we at last loosen our grip on them and let them go. How quickly things resolve when we decide to move ahead! Yet how long things seem to endure when we stop our forward progress focusing only on what may not be right about our lives. Whatever it is that is troubling you, whatever it is that has impeded your forward progress, whatever it is that has caused your life to slow to a standstill, know this – you can resolve it once and for all when you finally decide to move ahead!

You have to keep it moving!

Just some good thoughts…

The Great Energy Drain…


Have you ever felt like you are lacking energy and have lost your enthusiasm for living? Do you often feel like life has become a drudgery and that there is nothing hardly to look forward to anymore? Has life just worn you down and you can’t seem to find the way back up? Are you simply tired of it all? These feelings are all part of the human journey and you don’t live many years without experiencing them in some form or fashion. The solution (and there is a solution) may surprise you!

The problem with problems is that they wouldn’t be a problem if we knew the answer. Behind every problem; behind every issue that assaults our minds is some hidden cause. The more hidden the cause, the greater the likelihood of the problem continuing. Our spiritual opponent, the ultimate energy drain, functions in secret. The greater his secrecy, the greater his success. What you don’t know will hurt you! Often people find themselves attempting to address their issues with activities that have absolutely nothing to do with the real cause. In this way, humans become pawns in a grand chess game, unknowingly making moves that lead to nothing but wasted time and wasted years. When we suffer lack in some capacity, it seems the solution would be to add something to the equation. If we lack energy, we seek after methods to increase our energy by getting more sleep, eating healthier, adding exercise or swearing off sugar and alcohol. And, while these options are based in physical science, they fail to consider the spiritual reality behind the problem. It isn’t that we are lacking the necessary energy, it is that we are allowing the existence of something that is stealing away our precious energy!

There are two great motivating principles in life – love and fear. Actions you take in love serve to increase your energy and multiply your enthusiasm for living. Actions you take based on fear, however subtly or cleverly disguised, ALWAYS lead to a depletion of your energy and produce its faithful companion – misery. Please read that sentence again! The root cause of your distinct lack of energy is FEAR! Remember the secret of his success is the secrecy of his moves (against you). If it was obvious to you, you would see it for what it is and seek a remedy. However, fear is often deeply veiled and hidden from view. Most people and I do mean most people, do not recognize the fear in their own lives. They don’t see it because they live in a world that runs and thrives on fear. Fear is the the great taskmaster making slaves of its subjects. The world, absent the light of God, is forever subject to slavery, literally ever afraid of a myriad of negative possibilities. And this, my friend, is the way people are living today on a steady and cruel diet of fear from sun-up to sundown; terrified of diseases, horrified at the prospect of getting infected, afraid of failing, scared of succeeding, worried about their children, frightened about the economy and on and on and on… The reason you lack enthusiasm for living is because fear has stopped you in your tracks! Fear impedes and hampers the natural process of life and reduces life to survival and acceptance of mediocre thinking and subsequent living.

Fear is always an illusion and the only real solution to the illusion is refusal concerning its existence. You cannot expect to live in perpetual acceptance of its existence by considering it and entertaining it and dwelling on it, then wonder why you feel the way you do. You are not excited about your future anymore because you have long been entertaining the lies about how your future is going to play out. You are letting your spiritual opponent define the narrative. Evil cannot see the future anymore than you can, but it can do a damn good job of convincing you about how it might turn out, which when considered and held on to long enough eventually shapes your reality. The solution to fear is first to recognize where it is working in your life, then to stop allowing it entree’ into your mind. Stop thinking it. Stop considering it. Stop giving it space. Look, everyone knows that there are a million things that could go wrong in life, but no one has ever been successful at stopping those things from happening by being afraid, worrying incessantly, or churning over their possibilities for hours, days, weeks and years.  No one! The only way to escape the clutches of fear is to starve it out.

Don’t waste another moment trying to figure out how to become comfortable with fear. Fear is the opposite of love. Perfect love casts out fear. God is love. Once you begin to rid yourself of the great energy drain called fear, you will find yourself increasing in energy and enthusiasm for living. When you are afraid you separate yourself from God; your only real source of help. Fear is sin. Fear seeks to deny the existence of God and seeks to enslave you to a counterfeit master. Finally see it for what it is – a lie. You’ll find that once you stop dutifully entertaining fear and instead hand over the care of your life to God, your peace will return; your enthusiasm and vitality will come back; the joy of living will find its way back to you again. This is very serious business folks and you have to do your part!

Life is a blessing to be lived to the full. We all get tripped up, we all get assaulted, we all go off track for a time. We are in a contest with an opponent that plays for keeps. We owe it to God and we owe it to ourselves to consider that there might be a better way to live. Make up your mind that enough is enough and that you aren’t going to stumble and bumble through another day. God wants you to understand spiritual realties and He is more than willing to turn on the light and help you see. Have you been a victim of the great energy drain? Why not tap into the source of life Himself?! God is love and God is life…

Just some good thoughts…

Annoyingly Annoyed, Agitated and Angry!


Have you ever found yourself just completely and unapologetically annoyed with people? Have you ever spent the day angry about everything? What is it that happens to us on certain days or maybe even for certain weeks when we have literally no patience left for circumstances and situations? What burr got under our saddle? Who are those thorns in the flesh? What has gotten us so pissed off? And, from whence does that agitation originate? Indeed, how did we end up so annoyingly annoyed, agitated and angry?

If you are anything like me, you know that sometimes people and situations just bug the living shit out of you! Oh try as you might to return to your positive status quo, you just can’t seem to locate it. Something happened to you. Something somewhere somehow got to you. Are you just grumpy or hungry or sleepy, or is there another variable involved? Your emotions, as varied and complex as they are, are still fed by the thoughts and feelings you are accepting or confronting. Your mind does not function in a vacuum. Words and opinions and experiences all work to take you somewhere be it good or bad. Words carry with them tremendous power to shape your mindset and encourage or discourage you. Opinions, though always personal in nature, work with you when you share them and work against you when you disagree. Experiences must be interpreted and they are done so in the light of what you are thinking at the time. Some days we want to write off as bad days, close up shop and start fresh tomorrow. Other days we feel we have energy unlimited and can do anything we desire. Just what exactly is going on?

Every single thing you put into your mind has some kind of effect on you. Every. Single. Thing. There are no such things as benign thoughts. Every Facebook post, every Instagram meme, every so called news report or article, every conversation, every skillfully crafted advertisement, every text string, every email, every LinkedIn posting, every single asinine campaign ad, every reality television program makes some type of impact on your mind. You see it, you read it, you rehearse it, you contemplate it, ending in some type of effect on how you are going to feel. If you are not careful, soon you find yourself swept away and annoyed. For me, it’s not differences in opinions that bother me, it’s the general absence of any fathomable logic or common sense. It’s group think. It’s all or nothing processing where all choices are centered in either A or B. How absurd? There is good and evil and a whole world of choices in between. Americans in particular seem to have been lulled into non-thinking largely based on the cheap effects of social media. Empty words, empty ideas, completely illogical concepts and gross generalizations based on some bullshit someone else came up with. Reading it and considering it absolutely fries my soul! But, as has been the case since time began, the problem isn’t all the outside influences trying to captivate and capture our minds, the real problem is in our consideration of those irrational concepts and lies. Lies, lies, lies all craftily designed to dull and diminish our God-given capability to think for ourselves.

The solution to our dilemma is not to fuss and fume and fret ourselves over the latest line of insanity to assault our minds, but instead refuse it. This precarious notion that being an adult means having to patiently sift through the garbage bin, politely agreeing to disagree, trying to find logic in illogic or acting as if everything is true just a different kind of true, is abject delusion and nonsense! It was the consideration of evil that led to the first man’s demise and it will, without doubt, lead to yours as well. Your job, my job is to separate ourselves from it. Stop listening to it. Get away from the people that promote it. Well, you can scroll past it they say. Yes, I can but I’m worse off for having done so. Every small piece of poop you leave on your shoe is part of a collective larger piece of poop on your shoe, you will be left with in your mind. Stop arguing with them! Quit trying to interject something logical into something that isn’t logical to begin with. Nuts is nuts is nuts is nuts! Walk away from it. The reason you are feeling so agitated is that you keep giving the source of agitation access to you and isn’t your former friend that is behind it! Clean up your friends list! Better, stay off the feed for awhile. Figure out what it is that is upsetting you and remove its access to you.

Finally, recognize what it is you are saying to yourself or worse, what you are saying about yourself. No one in their right mind is opposed to their own selves. By the time you are angry with yourself and no longer like that person staring back at you from the mirror, something has already worked you over. Something has succeeded in diminishing your worth to the point where you remain perpetually angry with your very own self! You are a human being and like all humans will find yourself unknowingly participating in some absurdity from time to time. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to blow it, miss the mark, fail in your efforts and generally fall short of the person God called you to be. The nature of error preexists in your bloodline. Instead of being angry with yourself, figure out what it is that you are telling yourself about yourself. If it is causing you unrest it is probably not true. God, like any good parent, doesn’t make you better by pointing out your flaws but rather by pointing out all that is right about you. He graciously provided the ultimate solution in the life of His son. God isn’t mad at you, you are mad at you! After you clean up your friends list, take some time to clean up your own mind as well. Purge your thoughts of every accusation, every consideration of something being wrong with you.

These days we live in feel like the pinnacle of annoyance, agitation and anger, but they don’t have to be. There’s a better place to live. Calm yourself down a little bit and figure out what you have been feeding your mind that has you so pissed off! Anger and agitation do nothing but diminish your soul! Get above it on the high road where God lives. I don’t know about you, but I feel better already!

Just some good thoughts…

It’s Time…


It is high time we talked about time. It’s time to make a move. The time is right and the time is now. We are running out of time. Time waits for no man, yet there are times when time stands still. There is always a first time and this just might be your last time. There is never enough time, yet sometimes we find ourselves killing time. Time flies when you are having fun, but moves like molasses during tough times. You make time for the things that are most important to you, but you aint got time for things that don’t matter. We may not have time to get into all of the details, yet on certain matters we have all the time in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time…

If you have a little extra time, I think you’ll find that time is one of the most curious aspects of God’s creation. Time never travels in reverse though we often wish it would. There are times in our lives that we hold in such high regard, we wish we could return to them. There are other times we wish never existed and gladly we move ahead. Yet, time remains the one constant that only moves in one direction -forward. Time trudges onward whether we like it or not. The question is never how much time you have in a day as that never varies for anyone. The question is what will you do with the time that you have.

In a world governed by the laws of time, time only exists in the present moment. We cannot return to the past even if the past was only 5 seconds ago. Similarly, we cannot live in a future time, even a mere five seconds from now. Human beings suffer from their failure to understand this simple, yet profound law. Much of the fear and anxiety people experience comes in relation to some future time. We can generally handle what is occurring in the moment, but we can scarce handle all the potential dreads of the future. Conversely, we spend our precious, present time trying to move ahead to some future time. Instead of reveling in all the beauty and possibility a day may bring, we foolishly skip ahead to the weekend or to our next vacation or to any other future event we excitedly anticipate. And while anticipation is a good thing, it can make our present time feel unbearable. Whenever we shift our attention away from the moment called now, we rob ourselves of the time we have to experience now. As such we only half live, raided of life’s pleasures by our focus on the future. For others, their focus is centered on past time; a time that no longer exists except in their memories. How many people trade away a lifetime in the present for some enduring failure from their past. Some sad souls are still reliving some awful, dreadful mistake from forty years ago; a time they can never retrieve though they search the world over to find it. The past can only ever be the past, though you be reminded of it forever. No matter whether your past be littered with mistakes; involve some catastrophic event or loss; or even contain some life altering event, it can only be and always will be in the past. The only reasonable solution is to come back to the time called now. Your life is now…

Time exists as a commodity for you to use and to use wisely. There’s a time to work and a time to play. There’s a time to plant and a time to harvest. There is a time to exert effort and a time to relax from your efforts. There’s a time to rejoice and a time for sorrow. But, through it all, it is your time to steward in the manner that you see fit. People often confuse time for labor with a time for respite. There is no rule that states all useful time is time spent working or that all useless time is spent not working. Human beings were designed to work with purpose, but all work and no play, “makes Jack a dull boy!” It isn’t so much what you do with your time as much as it is whether or not you are rightfully choosing where your time is spent. Wasting time; time spent floating along wistfully with no purpose is generally a bad time. If you are at work wasting time waiting for a future time when you are not at work, that time will always be most miserable. It is better for you that you throw your whole heart into the work at hand and later throw your whole heart into your leisure time. Likewise, mulling over your myriad work problems during time reserved for your family is equally distasteful. You spend your finite commodity called time with the whole of you participating in the whole of all there is at the present time. Otherwise, you will live your life distracted from your present by your illusions of the future and remembrances of the past. The time to live is now…

Time is finite in terms of human existence. We all are going to age and we are all going to have to come to terms with the loss of our youth. The problem with aging is the same as the problem with youth in that you are not familiar with either while you are experiencing them. When you are young, your time is unlimited and not worthy of undue consideration. When you get older, your time is no longer unlimited yet is also not worthy of undue consideration. This is so because no matter your age you cannot live in another time. Spending time lamenting the loss of your hair or your cheekbones or your physique is wasted time; time wishing for another time. Likewise, times of youth spent dreaming of future safety and security is also wasted time; time that could be spent moving towards your destination. You can only live your life in the time called now.

At the end of the day; at the end of your days, it will become very apparent where you decided to spend your time and what you spent your time on. Your successes and your failures alike will not encompass your dearest thoughts, but instead how much you experienced and treasured the journey. You will remember with great fondness those times you lived fully with those you love the most and that will make it all worthwhile. Now is the only time you can live my friends and that time is now. It’s time…

Just some good thoughts…