Cultivate a Healthy Heart…


guard-heart

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

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

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

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

Just some good thoughts…

Control…


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

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

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

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

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

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

Just some good thoughts…

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…

Change Your Mind!


two-split-minds-heads-0618211Nothing changes until you change. The changes you really want and beg for and wish for and complain about and lament concerning, are not going to come about on their own. The circumstances of your life, be they what they are, are ultimately a production of your own mind and heart, played out in infinite variations within your own existence. When you find yourself bogged down and mired in negativity, nothing is going to counter that negativity until you finally decide to change your mind. And, while you wait and endure and long for a positive end, you will be waiting a lifetime unless you get determined to confront the source, your own thinking and subsequently your own expectations. As a great man once remarked, “You cannot travel within and stand still without.” As your thoughts go, you will continue to go. Where your thoughts remain, there you will remain. If you are serious about wanting something to change, you have to become serious about changing your thoughts. Change your mind!

It is common for man to think that his thoughts are simply a reaction to his circumstances. He fancies that he is merely a reactive force in the world. Where the world goes, he must go. Instead of commanding control of his mind, he waits for something outside of him to alter something that exists within him. He waits in vain for his ship to come in; his luck to turn around; some grand, cosmic intervention to occur thereby setting him free from his misery and pain. In not knowing, he fails to cooperate with the reality of things. He foolishly waits for God to do something that he must do and exhausts himself trying to do what God alone can do. In his ignorance, he rebels against his own self. He desperately pleads for circumstances to change, while encouraging those same circumstances with the thoughts he continues to think. He persists and they persist. He cleaves to the wrong and the wrong cleaves to him. He continues to walk in darkness then curses the darkness for plaguing his life. As another great man once remarked, “Dwelling on the darkness won’t bring forth the light.” Complaining, whining, bitching, rehashing, playing the victim, rehearsing wrongs done, replaying the evil, remaining in the darkness can only lead to more and more darkness. Endeavoring to command God’s light into circumstances of darkness while remaining in the darkness and refusing to depart from the darkness, is a fool’s game, which many a suffering soul has lived in and for a long, long time. In order for anything good to come, you have to be willing to change your mind. You have to change your mind!

People bring their troubles to God, as He would have them to do, and then refuse to change their thinking. They stay focused on their problems; talk only about their problems; and live firmly within the confines of their problems. They refuse to let things go. In doing so, they remain in the darkness. God is not found in the darkness, He is found in the light, for He is light and in Him is no darkness at all. To earnestly pray for God’s deliverance from some negative circumstance, while persisting in the negativity and embracing it instead of moving to the light, is a recipe for an unanswered prayer. It’s never that God is unwilling to answer the prayer, but more so that the person praying is unwilling to do their part and change their mind. Changing your mind to some thought that is based on the light of God’s Word is the antidote to darkness. Then, once you find the light, you must be determined to stay there. You will find yourself tempted to return to the darkness, the negativity, the defeat, but in order to prevail you have to stay in the light. It might surprise you to know that the reason your circumstances are negative, if they are, is because you have thought it so and continue to think it so. You have knowingly and unknowingly persisted in your negativity. You stuck with it. You stayed in it. You set up shop within it. You failed to take charge of your own mind and your own thoughts and have received the fruit of your negativity. That is not God’s fault, that is your fault. Do your part. Change your mind.

If you give this stuff more than a cursory glance, it will become apparent that you have a part to play in this equation. You can literally think anything you want to think. You can picture yourself successful, delivered, blessed, just as easily as you can picture yourself defeated. The problem is that you (and I) have been schooled by the world to dwell on the darkness. The slightest circumstance; a sore throat, a cough, a twinge in our back, a sudden lack of energy, a market dip, all send our minds reeling towards some frightful, pending, negative outcome. It feels hard to do because it goes against the grain of thinking we have been taught. We already know that worrying serves no good purpose, nor does it lead to any good outcome, yet we insist on running some dark variable through our minds, hoping that somehow, in some indescribable, mysterious way, we are going to stumble upon some light, some answer of peace, something! But, we won’t find the light there. The light comes when we let the thought go, when we refuse its continuance; when we calm down, get peaceful and remember how much God loves us and cares for us. In that space, our answers appear and in no other space. Agitation, unrest, anxiety are not addresses where God lives. Change your mind and walk in the light. 

The only way to get the change you are seeking is to change your mind. Think thoughts of positivity and light. Stop waiting for circumstances to change and change your mind first. You change it. You grab control of your thoughts and think only of things you want and not on things you don’t want. It is your mind, which is the gateway to the great citadel of your heart, from whence your life proceeds. Be positive and expectant not only when it looks good, but when it looks awful. Even in the midst of hell, God is still here and He will help you (and me). Don’t spend another day a victim of your own wrong thinking. Stop allowing the darkness to hold sway over your life. Get to the light and dwell in the light. Light dispels darkness and it’s never the other way around. Change your mind!

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

Just some good thoughts…

 

Walking in the Mud…


Cog Railway

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just some good thoughts…

You vs. You…


After enduring another disastrous morning on the golf course, a good friend remarked something that really struck me! He said, “You are only competing against yourself.” How profound… Golf, seemingly more than any other sport, is a mental game and you win or lose right between your ears. Life is like that. The one you are really competing against is your own self. I know that life is spiritual and there is something behind what we see, but in its basic essence the most important struggle to win happens right inside your own mind. Will you win the battle of you versus you?

Inside all of us, a gigantic dichotomy plays out. We are literally two different entities living inside one body. One nature wants to seek out the good while the other nature seeks out the bad. It’s the old adage of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. And while that is not literally true, that scene plays out in a million variations. On the one hand we want to enjoy the best things in life and on the other hand we habitually settle for far less. One side of us knows the value of working hard while the other side seeks a quick fix. One part of us acts out of love and the other part acts out of fear. Almost instinctively we know the man or the woman we ought to be, but we cannot seem to get there no matter how hard we try. We know what we should do to be successful, but we fall short of it. Instead of using words that are uplifting and encouraging, we blurt out hurtful words and wound the hearts of others. We find ourselves in a perpetual conundrum. When the opportunity to do good presents itself, we don’t do it. But the things we hate, we do all the time. In the battle of you versus you, you have to fight. But, you are not fighting the world, you are fighting your own self based on the influences of the world. As human beings, it is our most important fight.

The reason we struggle to gain superiority over our own selves is because doing so requires that we learn to control ourselves. Self mastery requires control. How quickly we lose ground when victory is assured because we give in on some principle. We don’t see things through to their logical conclusion. We live inside bodies we no longer like, but are loathe to exercise the control necessary to set them right again. We fall for the false illusions of pleasure, offering us something they cannot give, then hate ourselves for doing so. We want to find the quick route, the shortcut, the workaround. We ignore the cautions because they don’t apply to us, only to suffer the consequences down the road. We have the hardest time in the world learning that the wrong choice leads to the wrong result in every case, though it may not be readily apparent. We so desperately want to be happy but don’t do the things that make for happiness. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We seek to blend the good and the evil and make them companions, hoping we can find a way to play in both leagues. The answer to our plight is only found in control, self control.

Learning to control yourself is a difficult task. Yet the failure to do so accounts for most of the misery that is in the world. Every failure that ever thwarted man has its roots in some failure concerning self control. Fear is a failure to properly control your thinking concerning some circumstance. Obesity is a failure to control what you eat. Alcoholism is a failure to control how much liquor you imbibe. Every character flaw, every weakness, every obnoxious habit comes about from a failure to control some aspect of your thinking and thus your life. Nothing is evil of itself. Things become evil in excess or overuse. Every aspect of life is to be enjoyed and it’s our job to recognize when our enjoyments are taking control of us. Anything that seeks to control you must be rigorously avoided at all costs. Once evil gets its foot in the door, it won’t be long before it moves in bringing more and more hurt and loss. Yet, your mind being the only thing you can actually control holds the key to every situation you find yourself confronted with.

The good news is that you can learn to control yourself. But, in order to do so, you have to learn how to control your thinking. The temptation to do wrong, which comes as easily as weeds growing in the garden, is resisted not with so much discipline, but more by refusal to think in certain directions. You cannot tinker with the wrong ideas, but rather immediately reject them. You have to think about what you are thinking about. If you feel miserable, chances are you are thinking thoughts that lead to misery. You cannot get a good life from bad thoughts. You cannot win a race by looking back. You cannot win the next moment fixated on the previous moments. You cannot learn and grow and change by adhering to the same thoughts which you have been cleaving to in the past.  You cannot win if you think you cannot win. You, my friend, have to stop saying the things to yourself that defeat you. You have to get off your own back. You have to dwell on your good and not your evil. We all have some combination of good and evil going on inside us, but we win in proportion to how much we can minimize the evil and emphasize the good. (God has already graciously covered the evil).

This is a lesson that you have to learn for yourself. Try it out. Begin controlling some aspect of your life you feel has gotten away from you and see how good you feel about yourself. See how quickly your joy and enthusiasm for living come back. Self control is not something to be avoided in order to live a fun life, it is the very essence of a truly fun and enjoyable life.

Even your golf game will improve if you can get ahold of yourself in the midst of going astray. If it works for golf, it will certainly work for you…

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

Lift Up Your Thoughts…


The other day, a close friend (brother) of mine posted a quote from one of my favorite authors, James Allen, that truly resonated with me. “A man can only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up his thoughts. He can only remain weak, and abject, and miserable by refusing to lift up his thoughts.” If you want to do life like you would like your life to be done, you have to learn to lift up your thoughts.

If you lived a little and experienced some things, you’ve begun to learn that the mindset you maintain is entirely within your control. Oh crappy things still happen to you. Things go south inexplicably. Circumstances marshall together and bite you on the ass. But, what you do with your thoughts is always, always up to you. Sometimes you want to stay in your funk. Playing the victim has its own reward in absolving you from all personal responsibility. The reality that life is often unfair seems justification enough to stay down in the misty flats. But, at the end of the day my friends, you know deep down that you are refusing to lift up your thoughts. Thoughts and emotions change at such a frequency that you might forget whatever clouds are blocking your sunshine, forcing you to willfully recall the source of your trouble and get back to acquiescing to it. In such cases, you are refusing your own happiness and reaping the results of your own decision.

The difficulty involved with lifting up your thoughts is not a matter of discipline or self control, but rather a matter of being afraid. You’re afraid that it won’t matter what you do and that no matter what you do things will continue as they are. You doubt the outcome. Fear has you ensnared and trapped. You wish and pray and beg God to change the circumstances but refuse to own the part for which you alone are responsible. You want to win the lottery or for some other miraculous event to solve your problems in one fell swoop. You want to lose the weight by taking a pill and still eating bad foods in excess. You want the happiness you have hoped for without doing the things that happiness requires. In short, you are not cooperating with your own solution. In stubborn rebellion, you want good from bad and blessings from cursings (your own mental cursings). In the immortal words of Emerson, “We need only obey.”

Your thoughts connected to your mind, connected to your heart, form the basis of the life you live. If you want better you have to think better. You have to change your mind. You are waiting for God and God is waiting for you! God’s part is to provide all that you need to be successful. Your part is to think accordingly. You can’t hang around in the darkness and expect to see the light. God doesn’t change. He is not found in the darkness. He lives in the light. You have to march your mental butt over to the light, where He is, and then you can finally see. Lifting up your thoughts means to take your thoughts to the light. You don’t walk over to the light because everything looks good or feels good or because things are finally looking up. You walk over to the light in order to see the good and experience the good and then and only then do things begin to start looking up. Do you understand what I’m saying? You act first. You take the initiative. You make the right move! Change your mind! Refuse the abject negativity and doom predictions and get yourself to the light!

Lifting up your thoughts is not blind faith or anything that cannot see what’s ahead. Instead it is a mental decision to think something different and stop thinking in accordance with the presentation engendered by the darkness. You may not realize it, but thinking negatively is actually a form of obedience also, but you are obeying the wrong source. You are cooperating knowingly or unknowingly with the wrong source. Cooperation with evil, even if you have never considered it that way, is a recipe for a life of abject misery! It is not how life is or being realistic or any other bullshit you have rehearsed in order to justify your wrong thinking. Instead it is deception artfully crafted to make your life suck! And, if your life sucks, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Look, you cannot control the events of the world. You cannot control the economy. You cannot control the evil things that happen to people in this life. But, you can control your thinking. You can decide to lift up your thoughts and you owe it to yourelf to do so!

It is an absolute shame what happens to people in this life. It is awful and painful and terrible. People are blown about from pillar to post by an enemy they can neither see nor discern. They feel helpless and lost and defeated. Yet, they fail to recognize the one thing they can control, their minds. They do not see or understand the connection. They wrongly assume that thoughts are just thoughts and as such don’t put much stock in the importance of controlling those thoughts. God has not left you without remedy. Jesus was always successful because he controlled his thoughts, perfectly and at all times. You and I will not accomplish that incredible feat, but we can sure as hell make an incredible impact on the lives we live on Earth today.

Lift up your thoughts! When you recognize that you are dwelling in the darkness, change your mind. Stop it! Stop rehearsing every wrong done, every thing that isn’t right, every problem that confronts you. Stop living in and getting comfortable with evil. Instead, choose light, choose love, choose good thoughts. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 and I didn’t write the book!

You can lift up your thoughts and every good thing you have ever imagined can be found there! It’s your mind and your thoughts. Cooperate with God! Obey!

Just some good thoughts…

Ummm, How’s Your Energy Lately?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just some good thoughts…

Desperately Seeking Happiness…


I don’t know about you, but there are more opinions on finding happiness than there are stars in the sky. Some suggest that you turn your focus to yourself, prioritize yourself and choose yourself first. Others promote gratitude as the answer. A majority report it comes from doing the things you love. Many say that happiness is not a destination you reach, but rather something that occurs along the journey. Some offer that happiness is found in favorable circumstances. Indeed there are a multitude of theories and ideas, but do they really work? Can you find the happiness you so desperately seek?

There are few things you can directly control in life. Circumstances change, people change, events ebb and flow. Some days you are on top of the world, other days nothing seems right. At times you feel totally in control and other times completely out of control. Try as you might, control as much as you can, take no risks, choose maximum safety and still things go wrong; sometimes disastrously wrong. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a good person or a bad person, though we like to assume that bad people have it coming. Yet, bad things happen to good people as well. So, what is it? What are you supposed to do?

The only thing you can have total control of is your mind. Often the missing key lies in what you choose to do with your mind. I don’t mean you should try to be happy when things are going bad for you. No, that’s not realistic or reasonable. I’m talking more about your mindset. What is your default mindset? What do you think about when no-one is watching? What thoughts, ideas and expectations are you rehearsing in your head? Do you even know? Or have you bought into the crazy idea that your mind thinks and concludes with or without your permission? It’s sort of like when people say they can’t shut their minds off in order to go to sleep. I’m here to testify that you can turn your mind off or better quiet it down, once you begin to learn how to control your mind. Happiness is a result of consistently controlling your mind.

Think about the times in your life when you felt happy and blessed. Maybe it was a family vacation or on your wedding day or when you graduated from college. Was it really the vacation in the tropics that made you happy or was it your anticipation and expectation? I would suggest it is the latter. There are many folks living in the tropics that aren’t working and are free to play who are miserable still! Why? Because of their negative expectation. How many people do you know who are always waiting for their happiness as if it is on a train and they are awaiting its arrival? They are waiting to be happy. They feel that once such and such happens they will finally be happy. Maybe when they get the money or the job or the perfect spouse, maybe then the happiness will follow. In the interim, they remain suspended, waiting and waiting for some circumstance to finally line up or for their lucky break to at last arrive. You see, there are 260 workdays in a year, but only 52 Saturdays if you get my drift. That’s a lot of waiting…

There is a far better strategy than waiting! The best plan of action, yes action, is found in choosing to be happy right now, no matter what your circumstances are promoting as reality. Being enthusiastic and optimistic, indeed expecting good things is a function of your mind. The action is to control your thinking. Stop being run about from pillar to post being blown about with every wind of doctrine. Stop basing your happiness on what things look like! Stop waiting and hoping and wishing and just decide to be happy. You might not have recognized it before but it is the same thing you did the last time you felt happy, only you assigned your happiness to the pleasant circumstances. You don’t need pleasant circumstances to feel happy. All you need is to control what you are thinking and when your thinking goes south, as it necessarily must, you have to change your mind. Your feelings, those great natural barometers, are simply responding to your thoughts. It’s not magic or predestination, good luck or bad luck. It’s not some mysterious force outside of you picking you for one or the other. It’s you, my friend, and what you are doing with your mind…

Allowing your thoughts to default to your experience and taking life as it comes is a recipe for misery. The world we live in is fraught with negativity. Letting your thoughts run where they wish will lead you down the rabbit hole of mental defeat. Instead your solution, God’s solution for you, is for you to take charge of that unruly mind and line it up with the things you actually want. You line it up! You control it! You make it get in line with the life you so desperately seek and then experience the joy of seeing it coming to pass. Do you know why life works so well for some people? Because they expect it to and you don’t have to look any deeper than that. Do you know how to get blessed by God? Become blessed first and then the blessings will follow. Stop waiting on God. God is waiting on you!

The ability to control your mind is one of the greatest things God ever did for you. It is His solution in a world that seems chaotic and out of control. There’s no need to beg God to change your life around. You change your life around by changing your thoughts around, not later on when it looks favorable, but now in the midst of whatever! When the negative thoughts come, recognize them and change them. And, if you really want to excel, if you want to tap into the abundant life, instead of the ordinary life, then find some positive promise of God that counters your negativity and change your mind to that! Say that, rehearse that, announce that, claim that! Soon you’ll find your happiness increasing exponentially…

Are you desperately seeking happiness in your life? Have you already tried all the theories? Learn to focus and control your thinking. Decide first you are going to be blessed and enthusiastic and happy. Decide it right now today in this moment and keep deciding it though all hell should try to drag you back down. Don’t spend another second waiting… Your feelings follow your thoughts and you are in charge of your thoughts! Be happy…

Just some good thoughts…