Live Your Own Life…


living-your-own-life2In this country and perhaps other countries, people have been forced into a performance based existence. The message, all have been asked to conform to is a message that purports your value is based upon the things that you do. The higher your achievements, the more your success, the more superior person you must be. Professions are ranked whereby doctors and lawyers are notably above teachers and laborers. In this, people have been pressed to do better and be better leaving themselves perpetually disappointed and chronically discouraged often falling short of societal expectations. Folks even endeavor to add performance measures to their relationship with God and end up doing all sorts of things they really don’t want to do in the name of being good and acceptable before Him. Namely, the harder you work to be approved, the more of God’s favor you will enjoy in your life. And this, as can be found in all performance based systems of the world, leaves a man or a woman fractured and broken in terms of their value and ever in need of remedy and repair!  Thus knowing, we ought to have the manhood to make our own choices and in the end, live our own life. Are you living your own life?

Where did we ever get that idea that our persistent need to perform well was to be so closely aligned to the value we have as people on the earth? The value of a person has been assigned by God who views all of His creatures with the same love and acceptance. We need not prove ourselves to anyone. Neither should we allow ourselves to fall prey to people’s judgments and requirements for their approval. The things we choose to do in life; the direction we purpose to go; the decisions we make, the thousandfold decisions we must make, should always rest squarely with ourselves alone coming directly from our own volition and blessed free will. Trying to live your life in accordance with other people’s expectations leads only to a miserable life. Accordingly, every time you judge yourself, every time you lower your opinion of yourself, every time you reduce your value in comparison to another, you do yourself and the great God that made you a disservice. You are saying, in effect, that God somehow made in a mistake in the crafting of your own life, else left you without some advantage others freely enjoy. And in your confusion you task yourself with all manner of requirements you must fulfill in order to be acceptable both to men and to God, neither of which has been required of you. You will never please all the people and you never need to please the God who is already pleased with you. Live your own life.

Every man, every woman that is among us is absolutely unique and unmatched in terms of their individuality. Each has something to offer that they and only they can provide. Each person’s taste is wholly different, though similar in places, and every person’s pleasures and aversions are distinct. To try and live your life chasing other people’s desires or to perform in accordance with what another thinks is right for you is certain destruction of every chance at happiness. Happiness can only be obtained by choosing your own path and even then by first basing your value not on what you do but who you are. You need not further consume yourself with an endless list of duties required to be performed or any other activity that steals away your repose. People, maybe even you, drive themselves to exhaustion in order to check all the boxes and finish all the lists. You must strive to be the best mom, the best professional, the best wife and add to that the best looking, the most fit infinitum at all times in all ways. You have to be the most successful, have the biggest house, drive the best car while adorning yourself with the muscles of a twenty year old, a full head of hair and the ability to fix all that might be broken, knowing all that must be known. Perform, perform, perform, do, do, do… The things you might like, the areas of life that turn you on, the experiences you secretly wish for all must be sublimated under the mighty hand of accomplishment and success. In this, we don’t actually live our lives but live someone else’s life, hoping somewhere down the road the paths might cross. It’s time to live your own life…

Living your own life requires that you be honest with yourself. It suggests you take back what is yours instead of playing to the crowd, trying to please the crowd, seeking the approval of the crowd. The problem with performance is that it suggests you must perform at all times in all ways. You never quite have time to take off the mask, to get off the stage, to cease from performing and just be. You feel as if your quiet time must be filled with noise and your unproductive time (so called) be filled with productivity. The job requires forty or fifty hours per week and when the job is silent, the remaining time must be filled with to do lists and other work to be done. And while work is always noble and necessary, just how much of you want to do has always been up to you. Somewhere someone tricked us into believing that the majority of our efforts must be concentrated on the things we enjoy less leaving a small percentage of time for things we enjoy more. We chastise ourselves for sleeping in, for being ill, for not giving one hundred percent even when all we have left is maybe fifty percent. We measure and evaluate and scrutinize ourselves assigning negative motives for pursuit of things we like and dogged responsibility for the things we must simply endure. It is no wonder we remain exhausted and unenthused. We need to get off the treadmill and refuse to get back on it. The things we actually must do are far less than we may have assigned. In order to live our best life, we must live our own life. We have to protect and guard our free will and make choices not out of the fear of what we have to do in favor of things we want to do that we chose and that we support. God has made us free to choose without fear of retribution as error carries within it its own lessons. To live your own life is to choose for yourself!

Perhaps at the very heighth of performance behavior is the behaviors people have falsely associated with God and morality and whatever it is you want to call the things that plague our souls begging to be completed by the power of our own hands. They act as if God maintains a giant ledger anxious to collect owed money and funds in arrears. They seek improvement where improvement is not possible and reject God’s grace for the life they must perform now. They work the works of hypocrisy assuming God is unaware of the behavior absent their hearts. They say words they don’t want to say, do things they do not want to do, perform works they would rather not perform all in the name of pleasing God; God who is already pleased with them. The harder they work and strive and say no and deny and hold back and refuse, the more they fail never considering that their behavior exposes the lack of value they feel in their hearts. They work to be approved never considering the futility of the task. They dishonor God not by doing unworthy works but by thinking they can outwork grace; God’s unearned and unmerited divine favor in their lives. And most sadly of all, they think their value before God is based on their behavior in this life, behaviors that can somehow be shaped into holiness before Him. They ignore the sacrifice of their Savior and count his finished work unfinished and needing further revisions. It would be better for them to choose nothing at all than to work with hearts that are not in it; doing works they neither endorse or enjoy. Living your own life is not to live at cross purposes with God, but to live honestly and authentically, being true to yourself and true to those with whom you might encounter. It’s about loving God first and loving yourself also. It’s about knowing your value and not allowing it to be dwindled away on things that do no matter; things that do not count. Live your own life with God. He meets you where you are!

It is certainly not easy to break the chains of bondage and fear based requirements, but it can be done and do it you must. Your happiness depends upon it. The world with its endless checklists and comparisons will exhaust you. You will never measure up in the world’s eyes no matter how hard you work. Instead you must decide to remain true to yourself and stop breaking and folding yourself for others. Your ideas, your thoughts are not always wrong and the direction you secretly dream of is the direction you must go. Your value before God is estimable and it is your job to act like it. Stop performing. Get off the treadmill. Give yourself a break and just be the person you want to be. It doesn’t need to be any harder than that! Live your own life, my friends.

Just some good thoughts…

Trust Thyself…


0DC96196-7988-42E6-8455-28A57F00DEC8One of the great hallmarks of a confident person is their ability to trust themselves. In order to be successful at anything, you have to learn to trust yourself; your judgments; your feelings and to maintain that trust in the face of opposition and the naysayers. Prosperous businessmen and women are so because they had an idea and also had the holy boldness to see it through to a positive, profitable end. Good parents are those that know and understand their children and also know what is and isn’t good for the child, regardless of what anyone else seems to be doing. In our world of endless information and advice, people have relied less and less on what they think and have instead defaulted to what everyone else thinks. People have stopped thinking for themselves and severely limited themselves in the process. It would seem to make the most sense that you, living in your own body, experiencing your own life, knowing what turns you on and what turns you off, having your own unique and personal background, would serve as the expert of things pertaining to your own soul. Do you trust yourself?

The mistrust of yourself and your own ability to make proper judgments isn’t a new phenomenon, but rather came as a result of the overload of information available to all of us today, literally at our fingertips. Information, Google, WebMD, YouTube videos can be a tremendous blessing if we take them for what they are, information. As humans, our job is to gather information and then make informed choices. But, not all of our choices are purely fact based or, for that matter, in accordance with what “experts” think. We bring so much more to the table than a capacity to research information. We have complicated feelings, intuition, gut feelings, our own experiences and background all available to aid us in making the right choices, and by right I mean the right choices for ourselves. Taking a certain job in a certain place may appear to be the most logical thing in the world and still not be the best choice for us. Something may look right, feel right, be logically right, yet something inside says it’s wrong. I often think that God working in us is much more individual than we may have considered. How God works in me with all of my personal attributes and weaknesses may vary vastly from how He works in you. Certain things communicate both immediately and clearly to me that would be completely lost on you and vice versa. Trusting thyself is learning how God works in you always for your good and also learning how other things try to work in you to get you to doubt yourself and your ability to choose.  For example, people erroneously conclude that the nagging voice inside finding fault with everything they might enjoy comes from God, yet fail to consider that the constant criticism comes from another place; one hell bent on keeping them unsure. Trusting yourself means that you believe in yourself and your capacity to know what you need to know when you need to know it. Trust thyself.

The artists and painters and poets and writers are successful only by trusting that voice inside more than the voices that surround them. Emerson aptly penned, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.” That is not to say that every thought in our heart is truth, but rather the belief in ourselves and what we can offer to the world when applied with conviction, that is genius. Doubt is the great enemy to be vanquished. Doubting and hesitating and second guessing ourselves is a disease that carries with it all future failures and defeat. How often did we already know the right course of action, yet failed to heed it? And, every time it occurs we are reminded that indeed we already knew it. How could we ever consider that other influences would better know the best course for us never actually having been us? When we live in constant doubt of ourselves and our own decisions, we work against our own best interests and diminish ourselves in our own estimation. We make ourselves less than what we are and subjugate ourselves to the opinions of another. Then, when we are unhappy and afraid and lost, we finally get honest with ourselves and seek again according to who we are and not according to who everyone else appears to be. And, at last, we find access to the happiness and blessedness that already existed for us, working within us when we begin to trust ourselves. Indeed, trust thyself.

In the same way that we can trust ourselves and our decisions, we can also trust ourselves when we know we are making the wrong choices. Typically, we recognize when our wants and our desires are leading us down the wrong paths masquerading as fun and as pleasure. We know, if we are honest, when there is such a thing as too much and as such know how to begin to regulate ourselves without unnecessary criticism and judgment. Life is rarely all or nothing, but instead a series of necessary adjustments like the tacks of a ship sailing in the right direction. Choices are neither all or nothing, but instead modifications required to keep us in the center. All things in moderation is our safe place. To live in constant denial of things is to be a prisoner awaiting escape and finally having escaped, gone mad. Similarly, the allowance of all things without restraint or control is also a prison; one being subjected to mastery by another. Sometimes the best option is a modification that takes into account both extremes. Life is such a fluid and dynamically changing enterprise and as such requires constant adjustments which we can trust ourselves to accomplish. The notion that someone we love is heading down a spurious path without any knowledge of it is always wrong. In reality, the person suffering always knows they are suffering but has not yet come upon a solution for it. In such cases, our advice serves only as confirmation of a reality the sufferer is already experiencing. We serve our fellow man more by helping to reestablish his trust himself than in offering endless ways in which he might finally escape from his plight. In the end, it’s not until a person’s trust in their own capacity to make good choices is restored, will they be finally able to recover themselves from the snare. Relearn to trust thyself.

There is no stopping the man or the woman that finally begins to trust themselves and their assertions. Such a creature is a magnificent spectacle, confidently striding through life assured and clear and focused. Such a creature is the epitome of God’s creation, created by God to live with God and for God, assured of God’s working in his or her own soul in every situation and circumstance. Everyone admires a resolute man, even if he is wrong. There is no profit in skulking through life terrified of making a wrong choice; afraid of your own feelings; doubting your every inclination and idea. Instead, stand up and be counted. Take your place in the world on equal footing with all around you. Make your own decisions and make your own choices. Choose what you know, the best you know, when you know and stick with it. If you are wrong, you will also know. But, along that path you will have done resolutely and courageously and with that garnered the spoils of victory and success. “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” (RWE) Trust thyself!

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…

Do Hard Things…


hard thingsI think it sort of dawns on you over time that you have aspects of your life that need some revision. If you look up hedonistic in the dictionary, you may find a picture of me. Nobody likes to have a good time more than I do. But, sometimes with your good times you discover excesses that require modification and those modifications aren’t always easy. Excesses can appear in any category of life and you recognize them by their impact on your life. There’s a reason God says all things in moderation. Whatever fun stuff you enjoy that may have become too much fun requires a change in your behavior and more importantly your thinking. Vices are called vices when they replace the real you with some added activity you need in order to function normally. That’s not to say that you must give up all vices, but rather those vices that no longer assist you but instead seek to control you. If you can’t have a good time without adding something else in, you may be getting tripped up. If you have lived any length of time, you know this is true. With life comes an expectation of control, not servitude or slavery, but rather setting limits and sticking to them. In this, you sometimes have to do hard things.

All people love liberty and freedom to do as they please. This is part of the foundation of the American way of life. But, when your personal freedoms begin to impact you and other people negatively, a change will be required. No-one sets out to become a drug addict or an alcoholic. Yet both result from a lack of control. No-one chooses a life of obesity and the litany of related health issues that accompany it, but those consequences remain hidden in the pleasure of consumption. No-one plans on ending up a workaholic, until that satisfaction from always working ruins family and health and the future. It doesn’t really matter which areas of your life have excesses; too much; a lack of control, what matters is being able to discern them before it’s too late, then take steps to modify and choose new pathways. This will require you to do hard things.

On the other end of the spectrum of control is over-control. There are people that deny themselves all pleasures. Some even go as far as to say that they are doing it for God. I can assure you that God who invented pleasure isn’t opposed to pleasure. Yet, He also sees through the deception of pleasure excesses. Emerson aptly stated, “Punishment is a fruit that unsuspected ripens within the flower of the pleasure which concealed it.” Pleasure and pain both have the capacity to deceive you or at minimum influence your decisions. In this, man always seeks to add rules such as taste not, touch not, handle not, yet God was not behind it. Instead He said, “Prove all things and hold fast to the good.” In life we are free to experience our lives in all of life’s manifold variety and stick with those things that are the best. Some things begin well but end poorly. Other things appear to be good but have poison hidden in them. And many, many things are good as long as you enjoy them in moderation. But, lest I put chains on you that are difficult to extricate yourself from, you and you alone must make that choice. It is your life and you are the one that best knows what works for you and what does not. Some people choose not to eat meat and it’s their mouth, not yours. Others abstain from alcohol, but that doesn’t mean you must. Some people require ten hours of sleep and others only six. All of us have free will, unless we surrender it by excess. If there is something you do that is too much for you and begins to hurt you, you may have to do some hard things.

Even the term “hard things” is really a misnomer. Control is no harder than making a firm decision. What becomes hard for us is changing habits that have solidified over time. Habits are great for useful endeavors, but habits spell disaster when connected to our excesses. Worse, habits become invisible to our awareness and we are forced rather to experience some pain or consequence before they come into view. Doing hard things is really more about making hard decisions. It’s about proving to yourself that you can. I think one of the most important aspects of our own mental health is in sticking to the decisions we have made. Nothing like following your plans for needed improvements to boost your self esteem to record levels. Conversely, there’s nothing like saying one thing and doing another to bring you down into the dumps. If it’s going to improve your life immeasurably, do hard things.

Finally, in some cases, certain things or harmful activities have gotten away from your control . Maybe you have traveled too far down a certain path. Perhaps you got caught up in something that was bigger than you are. Certain aspects of life have forces working behind them that exceed your personal ability or strength to overcome them. In these unfortunate, but common cases in human beings, you will need God to help you escape; God, the Higher Power. God who sees all, knows all and is over all is well able to rescue you. All that is required on your part is some humility; some willingness to admit it (whatever it is) has gotten away from you. God has not left you without remedy, nor will He ever. It doesn’t matter how hard your hard thing is, with God nothing shall be impossible.

My friends, we all need help at times; we all get tripped up; we all end up at places we never thought we would end up. There’s no sin in getting tricked. But, when you know what you have to do, you must require of yourself that you do it. Make the change. Modify your behavior. Cut back. Limit yourself. Control yourself. You will be so incredibly happy on the other side. Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially when dealing with well grooved habits of thought, but it will happen and God will make sure you are real blessed along the way. Try it for yourself. Do hard things.

Just some good thoughts…

Life on Restriction…


unnamedLong live the days when you didn’t have to live your life on restriction. Nowadays, it seems, everyone else knows better how you should live your life than you do. Someone is always lurking, willing to inform of you of the perils of your choices, the risks of your ideas and the consequences of your behaviors. Limit this, don’t try that, watch out, be careful, not too many now, be safe and on and on it goes. And while this is not an ode to throwing caution to the wind, it is about being determined to make your own choices in life, not based on fear-filled group think, but getting out of life what you want from it. At the end of the day and at the end of every day, it is your life you are living. You are completely unique despite all of your similarities and what makes your heart beat accelerate belongs to you and to you alone. It’s high time to get off restriction!

Some days I muse that the difference between being a fanciful youth and being a mature adult is measured most by the amount of shit of which you are afraid. Sure the world is filled with sad situations whereby a person has been completely overcome by some negative aspect of life and lives a miserable existence as a result. But, that appears to be far, far from the norm. On the other side of the conundrum is a vast collection of people living an overly cautious and wary existence. This old world and the despot behind its systems has done a fine job of overloading our minds with information and the pitfalls associated with it to the point of paralyzing people and stealing away their freedoms. You can have wine, but you can’t have too much wine. But, if you do have wine it should be red wine, but only one or two glasses depending upon your size. You can get around the rule (said in jest) by distributing to yourself a very healthy pour. Yet, the fact that you are working around a rule is very telling. The more the rule controls you, the more wine you want to drink. Of course, I say this as a devoted red wine imbiber, but you can apply this logic to any situation. Americans bristle against any attempt at gun control for fear the Government will take away their guns, never entertaining the thought of achieving a happy medium. Being a democrat (in theory) is somehow classified as being a liberal which is somehow classified as being the antichrist. As if life consists of two extremes and you must place yourself firmly on one side or the other. Behind it all sits that secret imposter fear, quietly directing behaviors from behind the scenes. Gone, it appears, are the days of healthy discussions and attempts at understanding in favor of firm stands based on hate, more deeply rooted in fear. Cops tend to shoot black people more than white people based on fear of black people. Not sure how black skin makes a person tougher as there are plenty of white folks from Philly that would gladly pulverize you given the chance, but I digress. My point, lest it should be lost in an endless political debate, is that fear always limits, always impedes, always restricts your life in some capacity.

In America, we value freedom perhaps more than any other thing. And while you can always make a case that our liberties are being eroded, as you would expect when your life’s direction is handed over to a government, the erosion of our liberties is founded more in what might happen than in what actually happens. There’s plenty of good people in America who are still willing to stand up for what is right on both sides of the aisle. However, the media craftily constructs a narrative that says otherwise even to the point that a group would storm the capitol in an attempt to protect those freedoms. Consider for a moment the logic in play that would consider it sound reason to storm the capitol with a relatively small group or armed citizens in a confused frenzy aimed at protecting our freedoms as citizens or the person promising to protect those freedoms. The issue, not discussed and even less reasoned out, is that fear has taken ahold of people to the point they no longer trust their own judgments or their own observations about what is actually going on and instead look for sound bites and internet snippets that further corroborate their already confused beliefs. Instead of being appalled at how African Americans are being disproportionately gunned down by police, the battle cry remains, “Obey the law!” – as if it was that simple. Today, while driving to work, I saw large black SUV with an even larger flag planted on the back that said in bold letters, “Fuck Biden” and in smaller print, “and fuck everyone that voted for him!” IMG_1740Yes this is America, but why? What aim could possibly be accomplished behind such an act? Behind that truck owner, behind the “I have a gun with me” rounded ball cap and wrap around sharpshooter sunglasses was a man living in fear; a man living on restriction. More and more the good old USA is being subverted into extremism, extremism based unsoundly on fear.

The remedy, it seems, is for people to stop blindly following and thinking on the surface in favor of thinking for themselves. Surely you have enough good judgment to think for yourself. What has happened to you that you cannot make even the smallest decisions without having to have the support and backing of everyone you know? What, you no longer know when you are overindulging or going out of control? What or who made you incapable of governing yourself? You don’t need an infomercial to tell you to stop smoking, that smoker’s hack in the morning accomplishes that. You can only shirk your responsibilities for so long before that grim reaper called responsibility rears up and demands you make a change. Why not trust that instead? It’s your life and it doesn’t take much before you start to recognize it is going off course. Yet, that is not the way of this day and time. People rely far too much on what other people think. They have lost the ability to trust in themselves; in their own judgments and fail to even consider that they may have been subverted. No, we don’t have all the answers as people, but God does and it seems reasonable to believe He might be working in us to not be deceived. And if we are deceived we learn and from that we grow. The danger isn’t in making mistakes; the danger is in thinking we are right when we are dead wrong and in being unwilling to even consider an alternative.

It is high time we stopped being so afraid! Yes information is good, knowledge is good, wisdom is good. But, all bets are off when we let fear enter into the picture. Chances are the reason you are not happy is not because America or the world is going to hell, but rather because the fear of it going to hell has gotten to you. Your God-given right to free will means you always have the right to choose, unless you forfeit that right! Make decisions according to who you are, not according to who everyone else says you should be! Like what you like and don’t like what you don’t like. You cannot be true to yourself playing every day in someone else’s arena. Play yourself as yourself in the lead role of your own life. You cannot keep living as someone else and live the life you desire. Unlike when you were a kid and restriction ended when your parents got sick of looking at your mopey face, you get off restriction as an adult when you decide to do so. Most of what you have been so afraid of hasn’t happened yet has it? Maybe that is a clue to let that crap go. Life without fear is the only real life and you owe it to yourself to get there. You are not on restriction if you choose not to be…

Just some good thoughts…

The Ultimate Rap Battle


artworks-000283353062-uhjnbx-t500x500Did you know that there is a battle going on every day inside your head? Your mind is the arena and your thoughts determine both your success and your failure. If you have learned not to pay much attention to your thoughts, you’ll find yourself troubled, anxious and not at rest. You won’t know why it is occurring but you will feel the effects thereof. Conversely, if you take on the challenge and learn to control your thoughts, blessedness will follow like the sunset after a lovely day. The battle goes on every single day and continues to happen whether you or I like it or not. Will you learn how to win the ultimate rap battle inside or will you continue to be blown around from pillar to post, up one day and down the next? The decision rests squarely with you…

You cannot begin to learn how to control your thoughts until you first become willing to pay attention to your thoughts. Thoughts encompass so much more than you may have imagined. Ultimately, those things you run through your mind and continue to run through your mind form the basis of who you are, what you will believe and how you will behave in life’s situations. They are the precursor to both the good and the bad things that happen in your life. Your thoughts are that important! Yet, you may have noticed how infrequently anyone has even discussed this with you, let alone suggested why you should learn how to control your thoughts. For most folks, thoughts are a part of being a human being, but have no impact beyond that in relation to their lives. They feel sad and unhappy, unfulfilled and restless, afraid and powerless, yet fail to connect those feelings with the thoughts they knowingly or unknowingly entertain. In our current age, people are literally besieged with perpetual anxiety about everything and everyone, yet cannot discern the endless stream of negativity they listen to and then cleave onto in their minds. They run the dreadful possibilities and concerns of life through their minds over and over and over again, then balk at feelings of anxiety and unrest. They have failed to connect the dots between the thoughts they are considering and the feelings they are experiencing. In this they are losing the battle in their minds. They pray to God for help and guidance, yet refuse to change their thoughts. In ignorance, they allow evil access to their minds and reap the results thereof.

Thoughts produce feelings and long held thoughts turn into beliefs. Beliefs have a profound impact in producing a blessed life and a miserable life, with every varying shade in between. When you let your mind go or just run wild, the result isn’t neutral, it is negative. It is not functioning within a vacuum without influences from outside sources. The adversary of mankind works tirelessly to get you involved in erroneous or wrong lines of thought. He assaults your mind through any means accessible in order to bring you to a predictable end result and he has been honing his craft for thousands of years. Doubts turn into worries and worries turn into fears. Fear, when allowed regular access, brings man to ruin. There is a reason “fear not” is the number one admonition in the Bible. Fear, like all wrong thought, must be rigorously excluded. You eradicate it by your abject refusal of it. No-one has ever overcome fear by continuing to grapple with it in their mind. The wrestling involved is the object of the game; deftly designed ahead of time to defeat you. All erroneous thoughts must be defeated in this manner. Whether you be plagued with guilt or unworthiness or condemnation, you won’t get past it by rehearsing it in your mind. The object of the contest is to get you to rehearse it. Then, if you really want to bring people down to a life of defeat, get them so trained and so accustomed to think negatively that they continue the process on their own from the depths of their own hearts. That is how you lose in the ultimate rap battle.

In order to win at the game of life, you have to first win in your thoughts. You have to learn what and how to think. You have to be able to pay attention to what you are saying to yourself and when necessary, change it. You have to begin detecting those subtle jabs being launched in your direction and consciously change them; the sooner the better. The thoughts that run through your mind concerning your inadequacies, your shortcomings, your past mistakes and blunders, do not originate with God, no matter what some nice fellow may have told you. Even human parents know that you cannot make a child do better by constantly pointing out what is wrong with him or her. Doing so only serves to break the child. Instead successful parents know they have to look past the rough spots and build upon the strong parts in order to help the child succeed. You can be assured those critical, nasty thoughts have not come to you from God! They come from an opponent that is hell bent on breaking you. They originate with the accuser of mankind. Once you understand what thoughts come from God and what thoughts come from your opponent, you can do a better job at deciding what you will and will not think about.

Controlling your thoughts is no harder than thinking a thought. It is not a question of your mental prowess or discipline of will. It rests simply with your own personal decisions about what you will accept and what you will reject. It is certainly not represented by some type of mysterious dream state where you walk around all day thinking about rainbows and unicorns, afraid of any negative that may come up. Instead, it is a willingness to take on any mental negatives that may come up and being willing to fight them until they depart! At some point, like your daddy taught you, you have to fight back! You have to challenge wrong thoughts, critical thoughts, long held wrong beliefs (where do you think those beliefs started?). You have to say to yourself, that is not who I am! You have to stop thinking of yourself as less than others, not deserving of good things, fraudulent or whatever other garbage the enemy throws at you! Those limiting wrong beliefs concerning yourself have been stealing away your life for years and years. Something doesn’t become true because you thought it a thousand times. It only becomes true when you believe it.

Won’t you join me in learning how to win that rap battle in your mind? Your life will get better and better in direct proportion to how serious you become about controlling your thoughts. Oh, you are going to fail and lose track and need to be reminded often, but once you get it, you get it, if you know what I mean? Begin by simply paying attention to what you are telling yourself or what conclusions you are drawing about your life. When you feel agitated and distressed, which is ALWAYS a sign that error is afoot, think about what you have been thinking about. What are you holding onto inside? What fears are you consciously entertaining or grappling with? What guilt or error awareness is claiming the top spot in your thinking? What criticisms are you not refuting? You are not evil, your opponent is!

I hope you win that great rap battle in your own mind and while you are winning, help someone else.

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…

Change Directions…


All of us get stuck sometimes in life. We are such creatures of habit and those habits develop so deeply that sometimes they are difficult to change. At times, you might feel like you’re sick of yourself; tired of struggling with the same issues, month after month, year after year. Maybe you’re in a relationship that is heading nowhere fast. Perhaps you’re weary of your job and your co-workers or the hierarchy and the politics. You can feel mired down in circumstances, smiling when you aren’t happy and playing a role in a production you do not enjoy. Maybe you wish you were something that you are not and the distance between the two is widening. No matter what has happened in the past, what is going on today, or your unhopeful prospects for the future, don’t fret my friends, you can always change directions…

No person living hasn’t experienced this in some form or fashion. In happens to us all. You get a few years under your belt and things dry up a bit. What was once gloriously hopeful and full of possibility can be eroded away through life and experience, especially negative experiences. You get sort of grooved into certain paths and it becomes hard to extricate yourself from the trail. It hasn’t occurred because there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Despite the multitude of your private, negative self talks, you are not the primary cause. There are forces at work in the world whose sole purpose is to beat you down. They convince you to do the things you hate and prevent you from doing the things you love. They skillfully drag you down the same rotten roads where you end up at the same rotten place! They promise you liberty then enslave you. They use you against you. You are living in a spiritual world heavily influenced by things you cannot discern. Instead of settling into the mediocrity and the misery; instead of becoming angry with God; instead of giving up and giving in, you need to simply change directions…

Not understanding what is going on spiritually in life is your number one problem. You need to understand. You need spiritual understanding so you can finally see what has been happening to you. It’s no coincidence that the whole world suffers from this as the whole world is being subjected to it. It’s certainly not God’s fault and it is definitely not God’s will. God, the God of life, is the answer to all of your questions. He is the satisfaction to your frustration. He is the fruitfulness to your futility. He is the forward progress to your feeling stuck. He is the way out, indeed the only way out. He is not chastising you. He is not judging you. He has not sentenced you to a crappy life. He is the polar opposite of all the pain and suffering, in ignorance, you have endured. But, we haven’t always learned that just yet. We are on a journey and we have to learn it for ourselves. We have to be, at last, willing to learn. Our lack of progress, lack of results, lack of fulfillment is always the first clue that we are chasing the wrong things and heading in the wrong direction. But don’t let the apparent complexity of error cause you to faint. Truth is clear and simple and in the end it requires that you simply change directions…

No change can occur in life unless it is preceded by a decision. It doesn’t first require discipline and force of will as you have already long proven to yourself. You don’t need a sudden stroke of luck or a miraculous circumstance to turn your life around. You need to simply decide. “You have to become sick and tired of being sick and tired.” (Thank you Fannie) You have to finally consider, “Why sit we here until we die?” (Thanks Bible) In other words, you have to make up your dang mind! Stop waiting for the circumstances to change before you decide. Stop waiting for full understanding before you decide. Stop waiting for retirement, for your kids to grow up, until you find your person, (Thanks Grey’s Anatomy), until you’ve earned your first million, until you feel better and on and on and on. Change is only and always preceded by a decision. Then, the strength of your efforts match the strength of your decision. Strong, resolute decisions naturally supply the energy to carry them out. Weak “hope so” or “I’ll try” or “I’ll give it a shot” decisions will not be accompanied by any determination of will and will naturally fail. You’re not stuck because there is no way out, you are stuck because you have not yet decided! Once you take the time to make the decision, you can simply change directions…

You will encounter tremendous opposition, of course. The same hidden forces that trapped you are going to fight like hell to keep you trapped! They are going to offer you counterfeit, alternate directions that sound so good and hopeful, but still end in misery and defeat. In truth there is only one direction that leads only to victory and God is more than willing to show it to you. “This is the way, walk ye in it…” Changing course is not about becoming super religious and swearing off booze and cigarettes, sex and anything else that feels good (smile). That route, often followed, and worse believed, is yet another alternate route that reduces God down to how good is man’s behavior or how little he uses cuss words. How silly and insulting to God who invented mankind. Religion does nothing but salve the ego of man convincing him that he can affect spiritual realities with human efforts. Changing directions happens first in your mind. You have to stop thinking and considering and entertaining the same old garbage that tied you up in the first place. You have to do something different. You have to learn to think differently. You have to simply change directions…

Don’t fret my friends, you can always change directions…

Just some good thoughts…

New Year Wishes…


Welcome to that time of the year when all around you are making New Year’s resolutions, presumably designed to improve or fix the things that are wrong with themselves. Maybe you are doing the same. But, as you already know, change is difficult and most heartfelt resolutions have already broken down within 30 days of making the solemn vow and of the remaining 25% still holding fast to their promises, only 8% actually succeed. Pretty pitiful, wouldn’t you agree? How can you succeed with such poor odds? Are you really broken and in need of repair? Are the plans you’ve made really resolutions or are they just wishes; New Year’s wishes?

Most of us, because of the world we live in, are beseiged with thoughts concerning what is wrong with us. We’re consumed with images of tremendously fit, sexy human beings and the thousandfold ways they got there, all available to us for just $19.99. We are all abundantly clear regarding our excesses and observe with painful recognition things we need to better control. We watch reality shows of people who are very wealthy, working very little yet enjoying lavish vacations and spur of the moment trips across the globe. And all of these things, multiplied out indefinitely, serve to sort of beat us into submission concerning our own lives, leaving us frustrated and anxious to secure all of the things we lack, whether it be a flat belly and skinny jeans or disciplined control of ourselves and our decisions or untold financial resources promising us freedom from all that ails us. In short, somebody has gotten our number and discovered a method to keep us forever bound.

The first part of actually making a change is to determine your true starting point or maybe better, to be honest about the things you truly want in your life as opposed to the things you don’t want. Do you really want to look like that sultry, slim celebrity or do you just want to stop wearing jeans that cut off your circulation? Are you swearing off wine forever or do you just need to find a way to consume less than a bottle a night or three a night every Friday and Saturday? Do you truly need millions of dollars and yachts and cars and houses or do you just need enough to be able to say yes much more often than you say no? (I have often thought if most people had $50,000 in their checking account for discretionary purposes, they would actually feel rich). I digress… The most important benefit of being honest is to determine what is driving your decisions. What is it that you are really after? You think that millions of dollars will totally fix your life, but it wouldn’t. Instead it would fix the things that involve money, but do nothing for your poor health, your crappy relationships, your lack of purpose and fulfillment. Being super slim and fit would greatly help your health and longevity, but would not guarantee your happiness. Even controlling yourself, one of the greatest things you could learn to master, would not last long without a compelling “why…” Begin your plans with what is most important to you personally for all of your own reasons, not those forced upon you by the world!

In order to change something you have to do something. Quitting smoking is easy as long as it’s not today. Writing a book maybe exciting and rewarding, but you have to take the time to actually write it. Losing weight has tremendous benefits both in terms of your health and how you feel about yourself, but you have to be prepared to do the actual work for a considerable amount of time until you reach your goal. The reason most people’s New Year’s resolutions don’t work is because they are really wishes. Wishes, like daydreaming, are pleasant and make us feel good. They offer us a promise of a better tomorrow, but they are always tomorrow. They are thoughts without actions. They are plans without effort. They are guaranteed to result in failure because they are not accompanied by any work. Anything worth having has some element of work involved with it. However, we defeat ourselves by envisioning all of the work on the front end and get discouraged before we even begin. We want a quick fix; a winning lottery ticket, a medication that makes us control ourselves and our minds, a dieting technique that if followed guarantees our success with very little determination of our own. We just do not want to do the work! We fail to consider that the only time we must supply the necessary effort towards our goals is today! Gather and focus all of your energy upon today. There is sufficient time to do all that you “need” to do today.

One of the most common tripping points for human beings is to think anything can move without action. You pray and pray and pray for more money, but do nothing to find out how to get it, then get it. You wish and wish and wish to be slim and healthy, but cave-in every time someone brings in something that tastes good, promising to start again tomorrow. You hope and hope and hope for a better future; a better year, yet fail to do something about it today to change something that made this year suck! You see, your life is under your control, even amidst many twists and turns. You can get anywhere you want to get if you are willing to put forth some effort. Wishing for a better life; a better experience, while being unwilling to do anything or change anything is the definition of futility. Change is not found in grand life-changing experiences, new calendar years, in sudden stunning moments of clarity and inspiration. Change is not secured by sticking to your plans perfectly with tremendous, newfound energy and discipline. Change is at last discovered in daily faithfulness; by you sticking to whatever you have determined for yourself day in and day out. Sure you are going to eat a whole pizza, polish off an entire box of wine, go down the exact same stupid paths you swore you would never tread down again! Absolutely you are going to trip and stumble and sometimes fall. But, you get your ass back up and get back after your plan! Anything you do faithfully, though you screw it up a hundred times, is going to result in change for you. It has to because you have supplied the effort and continue to supply it.

I, like you, have some definite plans for this New Year, not so artfully disguised in some earlier paragraphs. But, this year, by God, I’m going to supply some effort and stop kidding myself with empty wishes. Whether I do it perfectly or not; whether I have some low energy days or not; whether I lose track for a few days or not; whether I completely fall off the wagon or not, I plan to get there and I plan to do it by being faithful. The beautiful in life, the accomplishment, the fulfillment comes not from having it all figured out, but by staying faithful to the One that does. Day by day, do what you need to do! Discover for yourself the joy that follows control; control of your own life and actions and results.

So, my dear friends, whether you be fluffy or thin, prosperous or struggling, bored or enthusiastic, make a plan you can take action on every day. If you blow it start again. If you did nothing yesterday, do something today. If the journey feels too long or impossible, move ahead knowing this, God will reward your efforts with results as you remain faithful to what you know is His best for your life! Where do you think those good ideas come from anyway? You got this!

Just some good thoughts for 2020…

Getting Rid of the Hurt and Dirt in Your Life!


You know, if you’ve lived long enough, there are things in life that serve no other purpose than to hold you back! No matter how hard you work to be successful and happy, these things are guaranteed to severely retard your progress. We don’t hold on to these things on purpose, but somehow they manage to stick around and thwart our every move. It behooves us all to figure out how to get the hurt and dirt out of our lives.

All of us have been hurt by someone or something in some capacity. Maybe you were raised as part of a beloved organization that really let you down in your later years. Maybe someone you cherished left you for someone else. Perhaps you gave your all for some important job only to discover that your value was fleeting and transitory. Perhaps you suffered some tragedy involving your loved ones that you are still scratching your head to try and figure out. No matter what has happened to you, and some things are frightfully dreadful and incredibly painful, you have to find a way to move ahead.

Holding on to wrongs done and the multiplicity of injustices you’ve experienced does nothing more than to stymy and squash your current enjoyment of life. Your heart, in response to the hurts you are holding onto, has no choice but to resort to hardness to protect itself. And, once your heart gets hard and calloused, you no longer have the capacity to feel the things you are supposed to feel. The whole world suffers from this malady… People wander aimlessly their whole lives through searching and tirelessly pursuing that heart they remember with great fondness. Yet, they fail to realize that they themselves are doing the very thing that keeps their own heart hard! You absolutely must do whatever it takes to move ahead and let those things go. You have to move past the hurts in your life.

In similar fashion, we all have those parts of our lives we wish we didn’t have. We are all human beings and as such are often easy to beat. We like things and then we like them too much! We cleave on to the very things that make our lives miserable. We know our excesses and propensity for more than enough, yet on we go traveling down the same roads over and over and over again! Certain behaviors, certain activities always turn out bad, no matter how they seem in the moment. Yet so goes humanity swirling and boiling in its passions leading wherever it gets led, never really taking the time to consider and thus choose.

If we really want to soar; if we really want to travel the high roads in life, we need to get rid of our dirt. We need to rid ourselves of those things both subtle and obvious that always return us woe. Why stagger we between two opinions? We know those choices that bring us peace and we also know those choices that cause unrest. It behooves us to simply recognize what is going on and change it. All humanity wrestles with this same conundrum. We want our cake and to eat it too! We seek to travel the roads of high endeavor with pockets full of sand, rocks and debris. We think we can somehow fool the system; straddle the fence; commingle truth and error. But, we cannot. We have to make a choice. We have to finally rid ourselves of our dirt!

In order to live life; to really experience all that God intended for you, you have to rid yourself of the hurt and all the dirt. Both, though very cleverly disguised, are thorns in your flesh, oil in your water, sand in your machinery. They are distractions and they are lies. Often your solution isn’t to do something, but to stop doing something! Life can be more about the things you choose not to do rather than the things you should do. Holding onto hurts and wrongs done chokes and suffocates your life. Insisting on doing things you know always turn out wrong buries your heart in bad feelings and remorse. Both are crucially important and both are matters of the heart.

In order to win at the game of life, you have to protect your heart. You have to make choices that encourage tenderness of heart. A tender heart; a heart that feels and loves and gives, is the heart of God. Once you rid yourself of the poisons your heart begins to recover. Remove the cause and the body heals!

Decide now to get rid of the hurt and dirt in your life. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to do your part… You deserve to fly!

Just some good thoughts…