Stop Surviving, Start Thriving…


survival modePeculiar things can happen to you while you’re on the journey of life. You can lose the things you once possessed. Your path can imperceptibly become more difficult. The joy and the happiness you once enjoyed can be stolen from you and replaced with something less. Incredulously, you can even begin to work against your own best interests. What happens to a man or a woman that leads them to survive instead of thriving? It’s time to stop surviving and to start thriving!

No person alive would willfully choose to oppose themselves or work against their own best interests. Even animals instinctively know they have to fight for themselves; for their own lives. Yet this is what happens to people. They can become so broken down, so defeated internally that their only reasonable option seems to be survival. The reason this happens is because their opponent, who works in secret, develops and builds strongholds of error into their minds. These mental fortresses occupy and overrule their logic and paint pictures of life that aren’t actually true. Yet, because they appear true, their devastating effect is realized. People are defeated within the confines of their own heart. It’s no wonder God admonishes us to guard our hearts above all that can be guarded. Once these errors of thought take root, gain momentum and build strength, they render you as a drunken man, unable to discern with any clarity of thought. They rule with the iron fist of fear to the point that it seems more reasonable to limp along in life terrified of some potential outcome, more so than to take life on with its multiplicity of challenges and win. It’s the textbook definition of getting punked out; accepting failure and loss without even fighting back. Logic would seem to dictate that you only need to survive in life when you are out of all available options. Yet those in survival mode always have options as the the things they seek to escape aren’t actually a part of their reality, but rather a part of their imagined reality.

Once people find themselves in these self-made prison holes, it becomes very difficult to extricate themselves. They have been caught in the snare of the adversary and are taken captive by him at his will. In this they are captured alive like a bird that once had freedom of flight. They are not dead, thank God, but they may as well be in comparison to the misery they endeavor to survive day by day. A great teacher once remarked, “Choose your ruts wisely, for you may be in them for a long time.” Ruts are formed in the road by repeated travel down the same path to the point where a groove has been carved into the road. Try as you might, you just keep getting sucked back into the groove. Thus, the solution isn’t to keep going down the same paths over and over again hoping to jump up and out of the rut, but rather to stop traveling down that road altogether. The rut was developed within your own thoughts and you have to decide to make a new road. The reason we get trapped, myself included, is that we persist in thinking the same things that brought us down to begin with. If those things we continue to consider are a lie, our consideration of them, over and over and over, is not going to make them true. Rather, we strengthen the edifice; we build higher and stronger the opposing stronghold and suffer greatly as a result. There is no shame in recognizing that you have been captured, but rather in surrendering and choosing not to fight for yourself. God will always provide a way out, but you have to stand up for yourself and take it.

The only way to tear down those great citadels of error that exist in your mind is to begin to stand against them; to oppose them. It is the truth of the Word of God that sets you free and there is no other way to do it. You stop surviving by your refusal to go down those same paths. It is your human nature, your ego, your well nourished system of logic that is keeping you bound. Humility is the willingness to admit that you might be doing something wrong; that you might be working against your own best interests. The enemy of all goodness is counting on you to make the wrong choice by working on your ego, by those things you think that you already know. By the time you reach the rut; by the time you have become imprisoned by your own self, by the time that fear is the dominating factor in your life, you have already been captured. You’re in the trap! No amount of introspection will open the locks on the trap as it is your (and mine) incessant focus on yourself that got you there in the first place. Who told you that you were not good? Who convinced you that you have no power against the evil that has been threatening you night and day? It was a lie from the father of lies and the only reasonable escape is to stop your consideration of the lie! Stop surviving!

You can only begin to thrive when you rid yourself of the hinderances to your growth. You must cast down those reasoning thoughts against what God’s Word says is true and every exalted thing that stands in opposition to the truth. Once you stop going down the same path the rut will eventually fill back in. The smooth, flat road of the truth will encourage your forward movement. The truth considered and cleaved to will open every lock; break every chain or fetter the adversary has ever put around you and you will once again soar the heights of life where there is no fear. But, the starting point is your humility to God and the things He guarantees are true. Once you escape the false confines of self-made prison holes you can begin to recover yourself and return to sober minded thought that has no basis in fear, only love. And, as God lovingly and graciously gives you a change of heart to the acknowledging of the truth, you will be set free. You will be free to dream and expect and love and enjoy. You will be free to live your best possible life with accomplishment, success and exploits for God. You will stop listening to and acting on those damnable lies and will walk the new road of high endeavor. You will be the man or woman that God always wanted you to be, free to love, free to give, free to serve.

All of us are going to reach a point in our journeys where we have been deceived and suffer as a result of it. All of us are going to fall short. All of us are going to find ourselves in impossible ruts at times. All of us will find ourselves in despair, in survival mode. But the only good God of eternity is always willing to help us find the way back. God’s will is that we thrive. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Stop surviving and start thriving. It is God’s highest good for you. Thrive!

Just some good thoughts…

Imagine…


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Do you remember when you were a kid and imagined yourself in a variety of different scenarios? In those pictures you made up in your mind, you were always the hero or the movie star or the famous athlete, weren’t you? You never actually saw yourself in some mediocre role living out someone else’s dream, did you? You could have never pictured yourself enduring some boring, predictable existence waiting for payday or some other event that made you feel alive even if only for a brief hiatus. Children simply don’t think that way. For them, life is still fully open to infinite opportunities for their own personal happiness and success. Their hopes and dreams exist on the high road of success and plenty as a hope and a dream should. Adulthood, conversely seems to bring with it a requirement to settle down to life’s realities; code for letting your hopes and dreams go. It’s not that your age or level of maturity made you do it, but rather that somewhere along the way you decided to abandon those ideals that lived in your imagination and opted for something else; something safe instead. You forgot the importance of your imagination. Imagine…

When was the last time you pictured yourself as something different than who you actually are, or at least who you think yourself to be? As a living being, do you really have to remain whatever it is you have already assigned yourself to be? Do you make decisions in life and then become chained to those decisions forever? The ideas and beliefs you carry about yourself, are those ideas fixed and unchangeable? Are they even true? It seems the older I get, the more evident it becomes that the person we have decided we are is more based on our continued thinking than it is based on any reality. It seems at some stage in life we have gathered enough information to form some conclusions about ourselves and we are loathe to change those conclusions. In so doing, we cut ourselves off from any further learning and exploration. We cannot imagine life any other way. There is nothing new to discover; no feeling we don’t already understand; no new way of being that we might have access to simply by deciding to change our thinking. We walk the same tired paths day after day, bored and unfulfilled, while refusing to change the thoughts that got us there. It’s as if our destiny is set, there is no turning back. In this we have been deceived. We have been habituated to our habits and manners and customs. Once insecure, always insecure. Once lacking confidence, always lacking confidence. Once incapable and inexperienced, always incapable, always lacking what is required to master anything. We live amidst old wineskins that served a purpose once when they were new, but no longer serve us now that they are old. Our thoughts have gotten old. We lack imagination.

Imagination is the unique human capability to see something that isn’t yet a part of our reality. It is the ability to picture something we wish for ourselves or some person we would like to become. The image isn’t based on reality, so called, nor on any present circumstance. Instead it is a picture we initiate, if we dare. Imagination is having the audacity to not accept what is in favor of what could be. The more you carry with you the images of what you want, the more those images become a reality for you. The starting point has nothing to do with your current position or status or whatever other measure you have used against yourself. The starting point is your mind and the images that you feed your mind. Imagine that. Most people, and I often fall prey to the same dilemma, carry with them images of everything they don’t want in their life. They harbor fears and worries about their health, often picturing themselves in hospital rooms getting lifesaving treatments. They see themselves as weak and defeated. All the things they do not want, dominate their thinking and they wonder why good things escape them; why the blessings are not showing up. They imagine the worst in life and continue to live out that existence. It’s no wonder people settle for the mundane and safe as it appears to be better than all the things they have wrongly pictured for so long.

The solution is very obvious. We have to make the effort (and yes effort is required) to change the pictures we have been carrying around inside our heads. Just because you think a thought, even a thousand times, does not necessarily make that thought true. People believe too much of their own baloney. They hold on to and trust images that work against their own best interests. No amount of confessing you are stupid will ever make you smarter. Indeed every negative word you say or negative image you carry about yourself is an indictment against your very own being wherein you are the only judge. Instead, recognize what has been going on and try something new. Picture yourself exactly as you would like yourself to be. See yourself as already in possession of the things you would like to possess. Dream it. Imagine it. It’s your mind and it’s your life! No-one changes their life without first changing their mind. God gave you an imagination. Learn to use it for your good. You are not a child anymore, you are something better. You have an unlimited capacity to imagine good things. Imagine…

Just some good thoughts.

A New Year to Reconnect with Life…


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As we reflect on the past year, it is easy to think about all of the things we didn’t like and make grandiose plans for the coming new year. But, do we really need to do that? If we want to lose weight, did we not want to lose weight last year? If our aim is the elimination of bad habits, did we engage in those bad habits in the year that is ending now? The same logic could be applied infinitum. Thus it seems it’s not so much changing the small parts that make up our life as it is our attitude towards life as a whole. There is a reason we get too heavy; we engage in unhealthy behaviors; we become bored and depressed and seek something new, exciting and different. But, that which we seek really has nothing to do with the date on the calendar as much as it has to do with our overall general approach to the life we are living now. The life you are seeking underneath your list of new year’s resolutions is actually here already. You just need to reconnect with it. You need to reengage with life.

All living things are either living or dying, thriving or deteriorating. There is no status quo when it comes to life. And, as you no doubt have guessed already, living in this world there is a tendency towards deterioration and decay. It’s not how God originally planned it, but it is what it is at this point! The world is a frightfully negative place. Social media is negative. Your friends tend towards being negative. The circumstances you find yourself in – negative. It is how the world runs and it is how the world functions. Ever since that old snake got involved with God’s creation, decay replaced flourishing with loss and defeats becoming the order of the day. As such, it is no wonder we have all become disconnected with life. It’s not so much the world’s way that has defeated us as it is how we have let the world into our hearts. We expect things not to work out. We peer around the corner in good situations waiting for the the shoe to drop; the bad things to appear. We are not gluttons for punishment, but rather have been systematically trained to expect negativity; to look for the cracks; to find reasons not to maintain any semblance of hope or positive expectation. In this, over time, we have been swept away from life and not to life. And, in our ignorance, we have been led away from the source of life and all that could ever be good about life. We chase money and status and sunny days without troubles. We long to feel good again and long for the energy and enthusiasm that accompany that goodness. We promise ourselves to get better at this and stop doing that in the hopes that we can discover or rediscover that which we seemed to have lost. Enter the new year and its promise for better things ahead.

Curiously, instead of taking the time to think and consider what might have occurred that robbed us of our life or our happiness in life, we flap around on the surface of things assuring ourselves that if we only had more money or more time or more favorable circumstances, things would quickly take a turn for the better. Surely dry January will do the trick instead of learning what all that alcohol is replacing in our minds. We eat too much and hate the result, but never quite figure out why we are eating so much. All excesses, a thing we are all guilty of, point us to some missing element in our lives, some unresolved issue, some fear allowed to hang around and plague us. Fears and worries and our constant preoccupation with ourselves and whether or not we are going to be okay, suck the very life from us. The more we think we have finally figured out, the less we actually know, yet we keep persisting in the same game year after lousy year, loving life less and less as every year transpires. What, you’re thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years old and you already have figured everything out? You don’t need to make any changes in your thinking or your conclusions? You don’t need to consider that you have perhaps been led astray in some capacity? I submit to you, with all the honesty my soul can fathom, that if your life sucks it does so because you have been deceived in some category of life which you have yet to discover. You have, as my wife is wont to say, gotten entrenched in some fixed mindset that serves only to limit and curtail your life rather than to enhance it. Look, we are all in this thing together and there is nothing you are experiencing that all of us haven’t experienced at one time or another. We all get down in life and feel miserable. We all get wrapped up in stupidity and the things that rob life from us. We all get perplexed, lost, confused and afraid. That isn’t the issue at all. The issue is whether or not we can humble ourselves to figure out why and then at last find the way back. The way back exists regardless of the date on the calendar!

When you reconnect with life, you will find that life and God and goodness have been here all along. God is more than willing to teach you something new. He is infinitely capable of exposing the darkness that has been wearing you out. He sees all and knows all. If you are going to make a New Year’s resolution, resolve yourself to rediscover life. Step down from that old, high horse of ego and be willing to admit that something has gone astray. You know if things aren’t working for you so you might as well admit it! I’m not sure what it is about being a human being that convinces us there is nothing new to know; no new path to discover; no new road to take. Sometimes you just need to find someone you love and trust and talk things through with them. Then while you are discussing your plight, listen to what they have to say. There will be errors of thought and subsequent actions you are taking. Be open to it. Lord knows we all need help from the people that love us most. But, in the end, seek the help from the One most capable of providing it; the One that knows you better than you know your own self. Don’t spend any pointless time lamenting your past errors. If there wasn’t an adversary, all of us would likely remain error free. But, there is an adversary and he happens to be dang good at his game. Forgive yourself, learn and find that life you have been missing. No matter what has happened to you or how low you may have sunk, underneath it all are the everlasting arms of God, ready, willing and able to give you a fresh start! Reconnect with life. Reengage life, your life. Look for the promise of brighter days ahead no matter what the calendar is reporting. Happy New Year my friends and I love you.

Just some good thoughts…

Holiday Musings…


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The holidays are always the most interesting time of the year. All of us grew up in the enchantment of Christmas; a time where for a short period it was about the other people and not ourselves. People were a little nicer; a bit more compassionate; more kind to their fellow man. As children, most of us experienced the magic whereby we could hardly sleep in anticipation of the gifts we would receive on Christmas day. It was the one day when all of our dreams might come true. As we got older, we rightfully accepted our duty to produce that same feeling in our children and the people whom we loved. How glorious! How beautiful! How grand! No matter your beliefs, no matter your background, no matter your upbringing, Christmas was always a special time reserved for families and dear friends. Then, just like that, the holidays were over and we grudgingly returned to life as usual. The time for giving had eclipsed and it was back to the pursuit of number one. Maybe there is a lesson in Christmas? Holiday musings are in order.

What is it concerning Christmas that works so powerfully to change our views about people? Many say that Jesus is the reason for the season. But, is he? Most bible scholars will freely admit that the birth of Christ did not occur in December at all. More appropriately, Jesus is the reason for all seasons. The very idea of a man that lived for others; that sought the good of others above himself; the determination and drive to bring about God’s will in all situations; the enduring love and willingness to heal all that were oppressed under the burdensome hand of the devil, this was the life of our savior, this was God’s perfect man. In many ways, he exemplified the concept of Christmas in that his focus was the happiness and deliverance of others. He didn’t live this way for a month or so according to tradition, he lived this way his entire adult life. He was God’s representative on earth and as such he came only to do good for all that needed him, both in his present time and throughout the future. Perhaps the good feelings of Christmas, whether based on the pleasant memories of our past or based on a change of our perspective in the present, remain to teach us a valuable lesson; continue to exist to offer a small taste of the life that God intended for us, a time where everyday is Christmas at our house.

Christmas is a time when we finally let our preoccupation with ourselves go and turn our focus outward. We joy and rejoice in the intended effect our gifts will have on those we love. We think of all the people we embrace and look for ways to express our love for them. Instead of carelessly glossing over and taking for granted those we hold most dear, we seek rather to honor them no matter the cost, so that our love for them is increasingly evident. For us, it’s not about the money, the expense, but instead it’s about actively seeking their good, their blessing; their hearts. In this, we taste the goodness of God and experience for ourselves the true intention and heart of our Creator. We learn, even if for a relatively brief time, that it is more blessed to give than receive and that in giving from the heart our hearts are satisfied and blessed. We touch on the grand design and for a short respite forget ourselves. Oh the blessing and delight that Christmas represents.

Christmas is a time when we draw back from the hustle and bustle of life and recommit ourselves to our people. We finally take a break, a much needed break from the rat race and endless striving for something we don’t have, and settle down to our base, our foundation, our happy place of family. And,  though far from perfect, our place of safety, blessings and love. We stop trying to make our family into something they are not and instead embrace them for who they are, good and bad, because we love them. We share our fondest memories and remember how we all waited in gleeful anticipation for the great day that was on the horizon. In some way, we all tasted and felt how good life could be and we embraced it with all of our hearts. Christmas, steeped in tradition and a conglomeration of many ideas and beliefs, still served to teach us a different way; a way based on looking for the good in others instead of the bad in ourselves. And, every year we are blessed with that same pleasant reminder of how good life can be.

This Christmas, no matter your beliefs or upbringing, let yourself experience the love and blessings that your family and friends supply for you. Don’t let the moment escape you. Don’t fret yourself over something you cannot afford or worry yourself with meeting every demand. What your children will remember most is not the Xbox or the the new car, but instead the love you shared with them during the season of goodness and love. The love you felt and recall so fondly is the love they will remember as well. Put the Christmas music on. Watch the Hallmark movies. Serve up the hot chocolate in your pajamas reserved for the holiday season. Drink wine, bake cookies, make the place as festive as you can for in so doing, you encourage the love and goodness you enjoyed that lives on until this day. Ahh it is Christmas time and the love of God is all around you. Embrace it. It’s Christmas…

Just some good thoughts.

Healthy Mind


ADA-Website-Mental-Health-770x400-1The topic of health has become increasingly more prominent in the minds and hearts of people due to some fantastic advances in terms of medicine and medications. Yet, often missed in our quest for better health is the condition of our minds. More and more people are experiencing mental health issues ranging from anxiety to depression which may have even reached clinical levels without really understanding the importance of mental health maintenance in terms of how we think and continue to think. Just as there are lifestyle choices that lead to unhealthy bodies, there are also ways of thinking that result in unhealthy minds. Unhealthy thoughts indulged in and repeated produce in us all manner of difficulties and troubles. Yet, we continue on blindly, never considering that we are always responsible for what we choose to think, healthy or unhealthy, whole or sick, helpful or hurtful. In order to live our lives successfully, we need to learn how to have a healthy mind.

Of all the great, foundational things you may have learned in school, how much of that learning was devoted to “how to think” or “what to think?” Thinking is something people just take for granted and wrongly conclude that it doesn’t have much impact on their life. Instead of endeavoring to learn what and how to think, they just sort of let their thoughts run like a boat on the river driven with the currents. Their expectation is that good thoughts simply appear based on sunny circumstances and bad thoughts must be endured until the storms of life have subsided. The deception carries with it the idea that people have no control over their thoughts. It’s as if thoughts are something that occur despite the person doing the thinking. It is as if thoughts have a certain truth to them and must be accepted as they are; where they are; in the manner in which they present themselves. In this, people unknowingly subject themselves to misery by the thoughts they continue to think. Certain thoughts have no value to you and work instead to make you ill. Other thoughts encourage, warm and uplift you. Why people would continue to think thoughts that hurt them is one of life’s greatest conundrums! Yet the whole world lives under this curse. Being negative, ungrateful, agitated and afraid offers nothing for your desire to be positive, thankful, at peace and secure. But, onward we march poisoning our souls, leading to our own, eventual demise. A healthy mind, like a healthy body, must be fed with healthy food. Oh sure, you can afford an occasional overindulgence or splurge, but to do so often will cause you harm. In the same way, we can survive our minds going south for a little bit, but we must find a way to return to that place working towards our own best interests. A healthy mind requires it.

There is only one you and there will never be another you. You only have one life to live on earth. If, while living on this earth, you are wholly against yourself, who can be for you? If you are not voting for yourself in the great election, how can you expect to win? People think all manner of horrible things about themselves. They criticize themselves, malign themselves, condemn themselves and doubt themselves. They have learned not to trust their own judgments. They willingly choose to persist in thoughts that serve no other purpose than to bring them down. They tear their own selves down! They aggrandize their every error and fault and minimize their own achievements and victories. How absurd! How awful? Yet, that is how people have been taught to think. And they persist in this evil thinking day after day, year after year. They fail to recognize what is behind that persuasion as even animals instinctively know how to protect their own selves. Thinking this way is not simply part of the human condition, but is rather a perversion foisted upon us by things we cannot see or readily discern. No person thinking clearly and in their right mind would actively work against their own best interests. This type of thinking comes from evil, working you over from the inside out to perform as your own worst enemy. If you can talk a man into thinking evil of himself, he will forever be defeated before he begins. As such our duty is to begin to recognize that these thoughts, these habits, these ways of thinking of ourselves are not right and are to be rigorously excluded. We owe ourselves that much! No person on earth has ever been made better, not even one iota better, by constantly living in and dwelling upon thoughts of inferiority and shame. You don’t make a child better by habitually pointing out his faults, but by cleaving to his goodness until he follows suit and believes it himself. A healthy mind only follows a determination to be for yourself instead of against yourself!

Healthy thinking is the cornerstone to a life well lived. Healthy thoughts build you up and strengthen you for the journey. Healthy thoughts are on your own side, even when you may have fallen short. It is difficult enough to live life with all of its complexities and potential for errors without the added burden of self evaluation and self investigation. You likely already know where your weak spots are and where you need improvement without the added criticism and judgment. Those judgments, that persistence in finding fault does not come from God. God is not behind that stuff, convicting you of sin as some have erroneously taught. God already made the way to save us from ourselves because He already knew we could not measure up. God also knows well the devices of our opponent, working in secret to defeat us by weakening our thoughts. Unhealthy thoughts, weak thoughts are made up in direct contrast to all that God says we are and all that God says we have. When we are afraid we have believed a lie and will not escape until we refute it. Hours spent in worry weaken our nervous system and make us ripe for sickness and decay. Thoughts of self hatred and disgust are the heighth of unnatural thinking pointing to a long persistence in wrong, uncontrolled, unchallenged thinking. Choose health. Choose life.

Today is the day to make up your mind to not think another negative thing about yourself. Stop participating in the things designed and orchestrated for your own defeat. Cease from finding things wrong with yourself and instead look for the good, your good. Begin to spot those habitual thought processes you have developed over time that serve no other purpose than to malign you. Quit opposing yourself. If God be for you, who can be against you? You can live the more than abundant life God has promised you, but you have to do your part. What you think and how you think is your part. Break free from the tyranny of self enslavement by learning to control your thoughts. A healthy mind is everything. Healthy mind.

Just some good thoughts…

Where are You Going?


elephantHave you ever taken the time in the activity and hectic pace of life to think about where you are going? It seems counterintuitive to even pose the question. I mean we are all heading in some direction, but have we given any reflective thought to where? You may find yourself engaged in certain activities you perform habitually and even dutifully, and after a while you are not even sure why you do it anymore. Maybe at one point in time it served you well. Maybe once there was something or somewhere you were trying to get to and that is why you did what you did. Quite possibly you behaved in a specific way to get a specific result and now find yourself, like the drug addict, searching endlessly for that initial high; that early experience that hooked you in the first place. Whatever the reasons, whatever your present circumstances, the question remains. Do you know where you are going?

A funny thing happens to you after you have been living for some time on earth. You can have the tendency to forget your way. Instead of seeking or striving towards some worthy goal, you sort of settle into the routines of life. There is really nothing you are after or trying to accomplish, but instead days of living with no real purpose, nothing that gets you up in the morning. You still do the same stuff, but there is no longer anything behind the stuff. The habits you have developed over the years become your existence and on you trudge day after day, mired in bad habits and things that no longer serve you. And like the crazy person who continues doing the exact same thing without any good result, you persist on a fruitless path ever wishing, hoping something will change. However, nothing can change if you don’t change. Instead of wishing your life was different in some way, you owe it to yourself to give some thought to which direction you are heading. If what you do, day in and day out, is not producing any result (any good result), you have to at least begin to change what it is that you do. At some future point, you aren’t going to have any days left. 

Self introspection and evaluation is not your aim. As imperfect creatures, we will all succeed in finding things that aren’t so good. Instead your end game is to honestly and  lovingly look at your life; how you have been living and see if your tendencies lean towards good things or if your tendencies lean towards bad things; bad things defined by the results they engender in your life. Some things we do, and you know this, serve no other purpose than to wear us out. Oh we persist, by God, but in the final analysis it’s the same bad habits leading to the same bad results over a lifetime. If you do stuff and continue to do stuff that causes you not to feel good about yourself, that is your first clue. Good things, true things, productive things have no downside. That is not to say you always have to produce something, but if you are producing bad things, you are heading in the wrong direction. Look if you are doing things you enjoy and feel good about and they leave you feeling happy, keep on keeping on. But, if you have to rationalize their existence, make excuses and lie to yourself, you’ve got to come clean at some juncture. All things in moderation are acceptable lest you be too severe with yourself!

Sometimes the issue isn’t so much what you are doing as it is what you aren’t doing. Every day has contained within it demands that must be accomplished. Ignoring those demands, in favor of some fun or other distraction, doesn’t leave you the better for it, but rather the worse. Do the important things however seemingly small. Every brick you leave unstacked gathers power over you. Soon you find yourself buried under a weight you can no longer discern. Doing nothing of value day after day, shirking your responsibilities, forsaking any discernible goals or plans, halts your forward progress and thus guarantees you will not reach any desirable destination. How could you? Maybe your life has become such a drag not because of your circumstances, but because you stopped moving forward. You stopped setting things to aim at or pursue. There’s nothing about getting older that suggests you should no longer have things you want to accomplish nor stop making plans to improve and increase and to grow. If you don’t have anything to aim at you’re going to spend a lot of time wandering in futility. And perhaps we have all been there at one time or another, faded out and lacking motivation. But, it is never too late to change and it is never too late to start moving forward again. 

So, where are you going? Do you know? Is there something specific you are aiming at and want to achieve? Is your life getting better and better? Is your life getting worse? Or maybe worst of all, has your life become an endless episode of ground hog day offering no promise, no hope, no blessings, no goodness, nothing? Whatever your life is with every conceivable combination therein, you owe yourself some reflection concerning where you are and where you would like to be. It’s okay to be stuck as long as you know you are and are seeking the way out of it. There is nothing as good for the soul as some sincere realizations followed by a vigorous desire to change. You can always change directions. You can always learning something new. You can always get to where you want to get as long as you know where you are going!

Just some good thoughts…

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights…


dam_asset_image-27230920200606-6634-14jvdp4Every day you spend in fear, in anxiety, bound to some potential, negative future outcome is a wasted day. Whenever your options for living are limited, reduced, paired down and minimized, you are being stolen from and subsequently your life is being wasted. Each new day is a glorious opportunity to live and experience and pursue, but when distractions enter in, you begin to unknowingly squander away your days fixated on the wrong things; looking in the wrong direction, missing the life that was given you to enjoy. How many people find themselves living wasted days and wasted nights?

Life, undistracted and unencumbered, has within it a certain energy level; a vital life force; the capacity to do all that you ever want to do. In its most basic essence, life naturally contains the vitality and excitement necessary to sustain you and render you contented and satisfied. Yet, on the other side of that life, an opponent works behind the scenes to steal from you that which was yours to enjoy. And like the robber that creeps in undetected, you are unable to recognize the theft occurred until long after the valuables are gone. So many people today only half live. Sure they are going through the motions and dutifully carrying out the day’s responsibilities, but they are not really living. They spend their days consumed with negative potentialities and that nagging, annoying something back there claiming they cannot really live and experience because of something soon to appear to thwart their efforts. Instead of moving forward they sort of hover there, caught up and entangled in something too elusive to lay ahold of or recognize. They know something is wrong, but cannot quite put their finger on it. All they know for sure is that their life has been reduced, hemmed in, hindered in some vague way; some undetectable way. 

Whenever you are feeling bored; trapped in predictable routines; mired in responsibilities and rules for living, you are being stolen from. One by one the things you enjoy are questioned and subsequently curtailed to the point where your enjoyments all must be censored, contained and controlled. God forbid you start having too much fun. Enjoyments need to be only half enjoyed and all supposed excesses reigned in and brought under subjection. Soon you find that all your enjoyments have been scaled down to acceptable levels, leaving you, the one called into question, questioning all of your choices; limiting all of your fun; afraid to experience and live. You’ve become irresponsible in your responsibilities. You are super safe and at the same time, almost dead. You don’t go too far, but you also don’t go far enough. You have been tricked into thinking that all fun, all good times, all enjoyments should be questioned, while never considering the source of your constraints. You consider that maybe God favors the bland lifestyle and all apparent good should be reexamined. In this, you have been deceived. Life is to be enjoyed and routine, rote, unthinking behaviors excluded at all costs. 

Much of our wasted days and wasted nights are centered in an over preoccupation with self. What a dichotomy that pursuit of self leaves you with an unhappy self. The more you look inward; the more you evaluate and assess; the more you focus on your own emotions and your own feelings, the unhappier you become. You feel as if you are getting to the bottom of you, but you are not. You seek to discover yourself and instead discover everything but yourself. Self-focus distracts you from your life. You cannot see the moment you are in. You cannot experience others because your are experiencing your own self and every fleeting emotion associated with self. This is a deception of untold proportions. You falsely assume that if you can just get to the bottom of you, all will be well. However, there is no bottom of you of which to arrive. Instead there is nothing but imperfection more closely examined leading nowhere. But, once you turn away fully from almighty self, you quickly find joy and peace and the energy to live. You experience not you at the center of all things, but you experiencing all things of which you are not the center. 

Wasted days and wasted nights are the by-products of distraction. Whatever distracts takes away from that which is real, genuine, true. Distractions concerning worries and fears blind you to the true essence and blessings in your life and slowly, but surely, grind your life to a halt. Distractions concerning behaving properly or not sinning, not making God unhappy, not being good, not being worthy, rob your life of fun times and work to censure your enjoyments, limit your pleasures and generally suck the life out of all that contains life and vitality. Distractions over self, preoccupation with self, obsessions concerning self and only self, paint a picture of failure and defeat lived out in varying, fleeting emotions which are no more true than the moments they appear within. They distract from the experience of others and isolate you, trapped within a prison cell of your own making. All are nothing but distractions leading you away from the reality of your life over to some other place that doesn’t exist, or exists only in your own mind. 

You owe it to yourself to recognize where the distractions of life have crept in and robbed you of your blessed existence. Take note of those times you aren’t there, but only half there caught up in the web of your own thoughts. Move your mind and thoughts to another place. Stop standing around mesmerized by what appears to be going on and get busy experiencing what is actually going on. Engage yourself fully, single minded and unafraid. Get outside of yourself and turn your focus outward. Every night you spend worried; every day you spend caught up in self evaluation and judgment; every day you spend consumed with your own feelings is a waste of your time and life. Rid yourself of the distractions and get busy living the day you are in. Get busy living the one short life you have been given. Move ahead and do it now…

Just some good thoughts…

Slow Down and Pay Attention…


how-to-slow-down-time-1_0ce709aLogic would seem to dictate that the faster you go, the further you would travel. However, life doesn’t really function that way. It seems we have all gotten it into our heads that speed equals progress. We fly through our responsibilities in an incessant effort to get more things done. We but half recognize what is going on as we add more and more to our “to-do” lists. We don’t enjoy the present moment because we are always looking down the road for the next set of requirements. In the end, we pay a price for our lack of focus, no longer able to detect important details. We miss life; our only life and trade away the beauty of the moment for some future day when we will finally be able to relax. In this, we need to slow down and pay attention.

Often when we get in a hurry at work, we miss important details; things we would see if we weren’t moving too quickly. We botch the project of the week by trying to get it done too fast. At home, we skip through important responsibilities or necessary tasks in favor of doing something else. We fail to see what the situation requires of us and barge ahead oblivious. All of these missed items take a toll on us and before we know it, we find ourselves worn out and dissatisfied. It never quite dawns on us that everything we let go, presumably from an absence of enough time, remains behind nagging at us and taking away our peace of mind. All of us have enough time to do what we really need to do, but we allow our time to be stolen away by frivolity and endless distractions. It is no wonder the people of today are so full of anxiety and distress. Their minds are a literal battlefield of unfinished business, so much so that they don’t know where to start to set it aright.

Life was never intended to be lived so fast. Living too fast and adding in too much extraneous activity leaves our minds threadbare and exhausted. This usually leads us to more distractions and attempts at medicating ourselves through a variety of means. Eventually our minds, overloaded and confused, feel the weight and begin to skew our emotions rendering us agitated and upset, easily provoked and manipulated. We have trouble problem solving and even the simplest of requirements overwhelm us. The solution isn’t to work harder and drive ourselves further. The solution is to take the time to slow down and handle the things we have, in ignorance, let go. We have to give ourselves an opportunity to relax and recover. We must take time to rest. It’s not noble to work so frenetically that we have little time left for ourselves. Otherwise, the obvious consequence will be found in the distress we are feeling. Internal distress informs us of the need to slow down and recognize what is actually going on. We need some time to think about what we have been thinking about. Bashing forward like a bull in a china shop does nothing but leave us damaged and in a worse state. When things are bugging you, you don’t overcome them by charging ahead no matter the cost. Instead, you have to give yourself some quiet time to begin discerning what is actually going on. As you endeavor to look back at where you have been, you will find clarity and begin to understand what you let go; what you failed to handle; where you brushed past something important and will be able to secure the remedy so much more easily.

We live our lives through our minds. No matter the reality of a circumstance, you live that circumstance through your mind. Life becomes miserable or enjoyable by what you put through your mind. Negative thoughts, fearful thoughts burden your mind down adding weight artificially. Self condemning thoughts convince you, you are something you are not and as a result, hamper your ability to process things properly. Everything you let go, that needed to be properly addressed, stacks on top of itself rendering you confused and distraught. It’s not one problem or difficulty that is defeating you, it is compound difficulties, multiple agitations, numerous unresolved slights banding together to overwhelm and overtax you. You wouldn’t feel so confused if you were only dealing with one marauder. And, the only reason this happens to us is because we have failed to take the time we needed when we needed it, to get things straight. To be your best self, you need to keep things straight. That voice in your head that never has anything good to say about you is only silenced one good thought at a time. Letting it speak unchecked and unchallenged is why you feel unhappy and why you are not at peace. You have to slow down and pay attention.

There is something marvelous about doing things properly and in the right way. We don’t have to be perfect, but we do have to apply our full hearts and our full focus. And focus only comes as we eliminate the distractions, one by one until they are gone. We owe that to ourselves. Some folks spend their whole lives entertaining negative thoughts about themselves that were never true to begin with, yet they persist year after year living in a prison of their own making; living amidst a refusal to challenge the thoughts; a distracted, unfocused, perpetual continuance in error. My friends, this does not need to be.

If you find yourself agitated and confused, distracted and distraught, take the time you need to get things straight. Slow yourself down and begin to think. Cut off, at least for while, the endless stream of distractions and give yourself time to think. And, for goodness sakes, stop letting things go. Be in the moment and live in the moment. Look around you and really see. Notice the people you have been blessed to interact with and look for the needs you can help supply. Pay attention to the people you love most with open eyes, listening ears and open hearts. Stop fretting over next month or next year or when you plan to retire and instead live right now. Live the day you are in and only the day you are in. That will be enough to handle on its own. The recipe for future happiness, peace of mind and a blessed life is to slow down and pay attention…

Just some good thoughts…

I Just Lost My Pops…


IMG_2350This past Monday my Pops passed away. He was 81 years of age. We often called him the “medical miracle” in light of how he just kept trudging along despite a host of medical troubles. He was a tough man and he was a fighter. Yet for all that, nothing quite prepares you for the finality of death. And while we knew it was time for him to go, nothing readies your heart for the emptiness you feel inside and the idea of not seeing someone you love alive again on earth. So for that reason and for my own heart’s sake, I wanted to write a little tribute to the man who was my Pops.

Often in families there are a host of unresolved hurts and ideas about how a son or daughter should have been treated. And it seems, no matter what you may have thought you did, there will always be some aspect wherein you likely fell short. I don’t offer this to point towards my Dad’s deficiencies for I have learned by now that all of us are simply doing the best that we can. Families contain a thousand variables and pressures, circumstances and difficulties unique to every family. Who are we as children to accurately define the narrative? A child cannot possibly be aware of the things that are going through their parents hearts. The job of parents is often to struggle so the child doesn’t have to; a reality that may escape you until you have children of your own. And when it comes to training about how to be a good parent, all we have is the manner in which we grew up compliments of our parents following in the footsteps of their own parents. For this, there can be no criticism, only abiding love.

My dad was a man of few words. And often perhaps, as a lover of words, I didn’t hear the things that I thought that I should hear. It wasn’t until I got a bit older that I began to learn that not all of us share the same love language. Sometimes you have to recognize the love being shared in different ways. My Dad, probably in light of not growing up with much money, spoke the language of love by the things he could give to you. He often cooked exotic meals from a variety of cultures as a token of his love and reveled in the happiness it produced as you devoured it. I sometimes think the satisfaction of a full tummy represented warmth and love to him. When I was young and increasingly demanding about the things I needed to have, it never dawned on me the sacrifices he made so that I could have the popular shoes or a football jersey. For as long as I could remember, he always had two jobs; his day job and a part time gig. As a child you may not consider what another person is going through to try and make you happy. When you remember your parents, remember that and make sure your love abides.

I carried some bitterness towards my Dad for quite a few years. In hindsight, I am ashamed of that. But, I finally got past it all when I made it about him instead of about me. I began to see his humanity and being a parent myself, recognized the challenges we all must face. I stopped expecting him to be something he was not and instead let him be who he was. I forgave him for his lack of warm expressions and looked to be a source of that warmth for him. I loved him for who he was and for his generosity in raising a child that wasn’t his by birth. I marveled at how he chose to do that for me and made me a part of his own family. I always wondered why I looked a little different. And now that he is gone, I wished that I could tell him again how much I loved him. Shortly before his death, he got it into his head that I was put out with him for some reason. So, he told my Mom in front of me that he wanted her to buy me a ring and that it needed to cost one thousand dollars. I offered that he never had to do that for me and that I was not upset with him at all. But, I got your message Pops and I sure love you too.

I am proud of my Dad and what he did for himself and for our family. I am proud of the life he made for my Mom. She has more gifts from him than she can count, all given in the language of his love. I am profoundly thankful for the things he taught me. He taught me that it was my job and my job alone to make sure my family’s needs were met. He taught me that no-one gets a free pass. My dad had a habit of saying no to every request. At first this used to bother me and I would scurry away in defeat, that is until I learned to go past his default response and ask again. Man, I could have gotten a lot more stuff as a kid if I knew that was what was going on. Pops also had some quirks that we all remember too well. He loathed the sound of crunching potato chips and so we learned quickly to soften them up a bit (smile). He was not politically correct and may have even been the black Archie Bunker. We always looked around to see who else heard what he just said. He often decried the use of cigarettes and pointed to their ill effects on your health, despite only smoking for a year or two in his twenties. I would often say, Pops you may have COPD but it aint from smoking, you didn’t work hard enough at it for that. He also had some favorite sayings. His favorite, “Wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one gets filled up first.” We were never sure if that was a way of saying you don’t get anything from wishing or that you could expect some shit, but whatever the case we all recall it with great fondness. My Pops was just a classic, a throwback from a hardworking generation gone past. I don’t think I ever heard him complain about going to work.

Well now he is gone. What we wouldn’t give to eat some potato chips in his presence, to her him shout, “no!” or to listen to those same old jokes we had heard a hundred times. What we wouldn’t give to have him back. I sure loved you Pops and I never told you that enough. If there is one takeaway from what I am writing today it’s that you should love and treasure your parents; the people that just keep on loving you no matter what you do. Remember they share in your humanity and can be real stinkers at times just like you. They don’t always know the right way to do it and they are simply doing the best they can. Resolve the hurts in your family and for goodness sakes forgive. Those people most close to you who we all tend to treat the worst, are in fact, the most precious. Love them. Help them. Be there for them when they get old.

Thank you for indulging me today and I hope this will still be “just some good thoughts…”

Something is Supposed to Happen!


power-of-God

You ever have that experience where you expected something really cool and then nothing happened? I feel like this is the experience of most Christians today. I know it isn’t God’s fault in that He would somehow be less today than He was in the past. Or, that our relationship with God is nothing more than replacing poor morality with good works in exchange for a ticket to heaven. Or perhaps, that believing in God is psychologically good for the soul whereby you can talk things over but not expect anything to actually change. It seems to me that maybe we got it all wrong. Maybe our starting premise is incorrect. Maybe we have been so schooled to expect nothing to happen when we seek God that we have settled for less than His best. I mean if we are being honest, if my belief in God produces nothing tangible in my life, then what would be the point? And, all these shenanigans folks do for God, why would they even do them? In reality, we the common folks have been sold a bill of goods. We have been craftily and artfully talked out of the power of God which should accompany our relationship with Him. The abundant life promised in John 10:10 just doesn’t happen on its own despite what we believe. No, my friends, we’ve got something wrong with our thinking and with our heartfelt expectations. When you become a child of God, something is supposed to happen!

The starting point for this dilemma comes when we do not understand spiritual realities because of our insistence in trusting, believing and acting upon only that which we can perceive with our five senses. The spiritual realm is outside of our five senses perceptions. We are deceived into believing God’s Word isn’t true because our five sense counter what God says in His Word. The evidence, if you will, is not apparent and believing thus, we quickly give up. We think it looks bad so it is bad and it looks good because it is good. However, that is not how it works. What God says is true whether it ever looks true or not. What God has promised you as His child is your reality, not what the doctor says, the economy says or the world says. As a believer, you have perpetual access to God’s power and God’s goodness and kindness towards you. The reason you don’t believe that is because someone taught you incorrectly. They tied God’s goodness towards you to your own weakness and inadequacies and in so doing stole away the power of God from your life. You are still trying to get right with God who, through the finished work of His son, already made you right with Him. You think, foolishly, that you could somehow make yourself good enough to deserve His love and goodness towards you. And then it is no surprise that you fail and in failing, fail to believe God’s promises to you. You are part of a grand deception, because when you believe God, something is supposed to happen!

With that spirit you received when you believed God’s record of His son, you received power. The point of the power is to help you overcome the power of evil in and over your life. The only reason you suffer in any capacity; the only reason you live with unmet needs; the only reason you cannot seem to get ahead or over certain obstacles is because you are losing in the contest with evil. You are losing in the contest because you either don’t know or do not use God’s power in your life. You are still relying on old “figure it out on your own” brain, which is easily defeated as you can readily attest. God has given you power for abundant living! With this power from God you can surmount any mountain in your path. God’s will is to heal you today of any malady that assaults you. God’s power can break the powers of evil over your life. God can reveal to you what is going on spiritually and what to do about it. God can right any wrong, restore any part of your life, strengthen you, bless you and cause you to ride on the high places of the earth. It is never His will that is in question! God is only good always in every capacity, in every act, in every conceivable way. His goodness is there for you if you want it. Oh my God, something is supposed to happen!

How many people understand the working of God’s holy spirit? Again, most people are still waiting for a feeling, some indicator that God’s spirit is inside and they usually end up waiting a very long time. God isn’t found in your feelings. God’s spirit that resides inside you (when you believe) is always ready to go into operation for you! It is you, the new you. That spirit inside you has different manifestations or evidences. The purpose of those manifestations is that you might use them (it is your spirit) to win in life. It is God’s solution for you! Part of that spiritual package you received enables God to talk to you directly. Imagine, God Almighty can converse with you! He can tell you what is really going on in a situation and what to do about it. He can provide you with clues and insight into your relationships, your work life, how to be successful and the list goes on. But, sadly, most people remain absolutely clueless about the power of God in their life. They sort of limp along, praying and not receiving, hoping, wishing and not getting anywhere fast. They are so caught up in their own bullshit that they miss God a lifetime. Instead of relying on God’s solutions that they desperately need, they focus in on their own missteps and failures as if the power of God hinged upon their good behavior. How absurd it is to think that the God of Heaven and Earth would limit Himself to human behaviors and mistakes! You’ve got it all wrong and no wonder because that is how you have been taught. Everything God does for man He does from His grace, His divine favor that He freely gives to every man. You finally can operate the power of God when you stop making it about you and make it about Him! God already knows your whole future (and mine) and loves you anyway. Don’t you love your children? Do you only provide them with the solutions they need when they are good or do you do it out of your pure love for them? Well, I imagine God is at least that good, don’t you? When you learn to operate the power of God, something is supposed to happen. Something good will absolutely happen!

The whole point of this life is to learn about who God is and to live your life with Him. Don’t spend another day trying to go it alone. You need help and you know it. Life, absent God is confusing and scary and hard. Life without God is futile and miserable. Brethren, these things ought not to be. The power of God is inside of you already if you have been born again and all you have to do is learn how to use it. Once you get God involved, life turns around in a hurry. You will find that it was never about your good works, but rather about the God who made you. His love is unparalleled. His kindness and compassion, unrivaled. You could not find a better friend or a better source of all that is missing from your life. All that God seeks from you is a willingness to learn of Him. Ask the questions and see if He will not give you the answers. Oh how grateful I am to have learned of Him. Oh how good my life is with Him. With all of my decidedly suspect behaviors, He loves me still and gives me all that I could ever need. Surely you want that in your own life. You would be crazy not to want it! When God is involved, something is supposed to happen! Always!

Just some good thoughts…