What’s the Point?


purpose-lifeHave you ever wondered what is the point of life? I think it is safe to say that we all enjoy being alive and experiencing many different things. But, is that the point of it all? Is life merely a race where you put forth your energy to acquire as many things as possible before you die, or is life something you must learn to endure and even survive in order to eke out as many days on earth as you can? What if there is so much more to life? What if our time on terra firma was originally designed to be an opportunity to learn about our Creator; to learn how to live life to the full in every conceivable way; to experience great love and joy and the peace that passeth understanding? What if the grand point of our life is God, learning about Him; learning who He really is; learning how to live life in the best way that cannot help but produce immeasurable results, unending joy and deep seated satisfaction in our souls? Indeed, what’s the point?

People have all kinds of ideas and viewpoints about who God actually is. Their views are as varied as people are varied. Many, if not most, have accepted this notion that God is always present observing everything they do or don’t do and as such is meting out rewards or punishments based upon acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. When bad things happen, as they necessarily must, they conclude those things happened due to errors, flaws or sins on the part of the individual involved. Similarly, when good things happen or appear, they conclude they must be living right. Both viewpoints surreptitiously drive the focus of a relationship with God to people and the things that people do. On the negative side, people learn to fear God and expect bad things to happen in accordance with the so called bad things they may have done. On the other side, which really isn’t positive, they learn that they must perform certain behaviors or abstain from certain behaviors in order for God to bless them. Instead of learning about who God is, people learn to focus on themselves and as such live in a perpetual state of either fear or obligation. From this misunderstanding, people choose to ignore God altogether rather than get wrapped up in a system from which they cannot prevail. Even the mention of God typically elicits self-reflection concerning where the person fits on the scale of good and bad. What a great dishonor to God, His love, His compassion, His goodness. God formed, made and created people for Himself. As the author of life, He knows precisely what will make you happy and precisely what will cause you unrest. He is aware of the life that is possible for you and the counterfeit life which is clamoring for supremacy. He sees through every deception and as you would expect from a loving Father, seeks only the best for you (not from you!). Does it really seem plausible to you that the greatest and most vast intelligence there is somehow remains focused on your missteps, your mistakes, your fallible human nature? That, my friends, is not the point!

God created the heavens and the earth for you. He designed it to be an unending and unparalleled place of learning and delight, filling it with infinite diversity and opportunity for exploration. The absolute perfection of nature cannot be ignored. The balance, the symmetry, the interdependency, the timing, the beauty, the accuracy, the wonder of it all speaks quietly in your heart that there is something more for you to learn. A flower, a beach, a tree in changing seasons, a bumblebee, a rainbow trout, the mountains, a billion unique snowflakes, the warm summer sun, the shadowy light of the mornings and the evenings, a pasture, the animal kingdom, the expanse, all point to someone, something more incredible than words can describe. And, incredulously, the point of the earth is you! Have you ever considered the wonder of your body and its millionfold possibilities? If there is something or someone so perfect, so intricate, so detailed (words fail me) to have even conceived of this delightful thing we call life, is it not possible that He is trying to communicate something to you? Can you begin to entertain the idea that He might be so far above human thought and understanding, so vast and immeasurable that you have not thus far been able to see Him for who He really is? His ways are above our ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts. And in His masterplan for creation, He made you. He wanted to be a Father to His children. (He invented the concept) He sought and seeks fellowship from His children. He is all powerful and all knowing and He desires to share that with you. He does not see your human foibles, your missteps, your absurdities (or mine), He sees you as His child upon which He wishes to shower untold blessings. He is love, the very essence and manifestation of it. He is life, your life and mine. He is the point!

Sometimes human beings are “too smart” for their own good. They wish to rationalize and explain away the obvious. They observe the perfection, but don’t expect perfection from the Maker of it all. They miss the point. They get all caught up in the rat race, toiling away, striving, trying to get something from nothing, applying superstitions, fables, and man-made principles to decipher a world that wasn’t made by man. They experience all of the misery, the futility, the despair because they are seeking life from everything but God. They are most sincere, honest, humble, and genuine, but looking for love in all the wrong places. They fear their only real source of help and rescue. They do not find Him because they have not yet sought Him, for He is not far from from any one of us. The Perfection that exists knows only goodness and kindness and love. He doesn’t want to condemn you, He wants to help you. He has already seen your whole life through and He still loves you. He desires that you might have life and that you might have it abundantly. His heart is open to all, to all of you. He has the power to completely revolutionize your life, to transform it, to restore it. He can bring you from death to life. He is God and He is the whole point!

Oh tempest tossed souls wherever you may find yourself in life, God is already there. He has heard your prayers and He knows exactly what you need. He does not exist to point out your imperfection, He desires instead to reveal His perfection to you. He wants to show you real life, not some imitation. He desires to give you true, complete and lasting freedom. He seeks not your religious obligation, He longs for your love. He wants you to experience a fantastic life now culminating with a life that will last forever with HIm. He is and always will be the point of it all. Find God, find life. He is the point!

Just some good thoughts…

Hey Happiness, Where are You?


Jan21_12_525848907Happiness is probably the most sought after thing in the world. Thus, the sum of all questing can be found in successfully answering the one simple question, “Why am I not happy?” People attribute a myriad of reasons for not finding happiness ranging from not having enough money to not having the right relationship yet often they fail to find happiness while enjoying both. Is it really the absence of something you want that thwarts or retards your efforts in finding happiness or is it something else? Is happiness something that just sort of falls upon you when the circumstances are favorable or is there more to the story you have thus far failed to consider? What if the pursuit of your long lost happiness is not based on any of these things at all? Is it possible that the happiness that is your birthright eludes you because something or someone is stealing it from you? Oh hey happiness, where are you?

In order to be truly happy you first have to become free. Wherever and whenever you enjoy freedom your happiness will be evident. Your mind, your heart functions best when it is unencumbered or held back by any constraints. Think back to those times in your life when you experienced abundant happiness. It is safe to say that in those times of almost unending happiness, you were also virtually carefree in your approach to life. You were not dragging around a litany of complaints concerning your situation, nor were you full of fear concerning your future. You enjoyed who you were and where you were in life. You didn’t fill your mind with expectations about what you should be and you were not comparing yourself to others. In those times, your heart was not burdened or overloaded with cares and you just expected things to work out. In fact, you didn’t give the possibility of things not working out any space between your ears. You refused entree’ to the dark side of life and trusted that good things were probably preparing for you. In this you lived as God would have you to live! And in unity with that type of thinking your happiness overflowed and filled your soul. Then, as time marched on, imperceptibly at first, your thinking began to change. You recalled your early years as fanciful and lacking the mature thought that accompanied adulthood. You regaled thoughts of seriousness and responsibility and concerned yourself with “realism” more in accordance with the mechanisms of the world you observed, convincing yourself that adult thought must also take into consideration all of the multitude of pitfalls that could befall a person in life and in so doing unknowingly traded away your happiness for fear.

The number one cause and in many instances the only cause for your complete lack of happiness is fear. Look no further. End the research project early. It is fear that manages to suck the life out of God’s creation and it is fear that is impeding you today. Oh it doesn’t look like fear or seem to fit the accepted definition of fear, but it is still fear. Unresolved fear and its myriad companions work behind the scenes to put limits on your existence and to freeze you in your tracks. Fear impedes and thwarts your forward progress. Fear adds clouds to your sunny days; steals your energy for doing; casts dispersions on your good enjoyed and threatens your future. Fear locks you into a prison, a prison you cannot easily discern yet confines you just the same. Fear adds a “yes, but” and puts a question mark where an exclamation point belongs. As fear’s prisoner, you are no longer free to enjoy your life in the moment or your accomplishments. You have a difficult time enjoying anything because of the carefully crafted restraints that have been built into your thinking. You are or have become a prisoner in a self-made prison hole. You perpetuate the lie that fear is by your persistence in giving it entree’ into your mind. You think fear; look for fear; believe fear and live a life controlled by fear! You are not happy because fear has gained ascendency in your life. Instead of doing what you would like to do, pursuing things that make your heart sing, living as a truly free man or woman, you live a life controlled by fearful thinking threatening to break up and destroy all that is beautiful and good. In this you have become a slave, a slave to fearful thinking and subsequent fearful actions. Every move you make in fear produces more fear and it seems as if there is no escape. In this you are unhappy and will remain unhappy until you can finally understand what is going on! Fear is a liar and is the cause behind every unhappiness there is.

Whether you like it or not or believe it or not, fear is the veiled intruder you have overlooked. Fear must be challenged and overcome. Every happy person you know has overcome at least some if not all of its claims. In order to be a free person you have to be free from fear. As long as there is some aspect of life that frightens you or has the power to stall your efforts, you will remain bound. You have to take it on! And the number one method for defeating fear is not found in your bravado or recklessness or unrelenting discipline, it is found in your resolute decision to stop giving it access to your life. Stop entertaining it, playing with it, considering it and giving it space. How quickly a pleasant day or pleasant time is cut short by the entrance of some unreasonable fear thought left unchecked. How miserable a life becomes when fear puts its shackles around your free will and stops your enjoyments and your fun. The absence of your happiness alone is sufficient evidence that fear has its claws on you, grasping you and robbing you of all of your joy. The escape you seek; the freedom your heart desires; the happiness that eludes you is found on the other side of that fear that has been controlling your life. Take your life back!

The number one enemy that you must contend with in this life is fear. You don’t have to work hard to produce happiness, happiness comes naturally as a result of your freedom. Once you begin to finally escape the tyranny of things and extricate yourself from the clutches of fear, you will find your happiness returns like the carefree smile on a child’s face, unencumbered by the innumerable illusions concerning what can go wrong and why. God has called you and I to freedom whereby He can bestow all manner of goodness upon us as any loving Father would desire. Seek God’s help to overcome your fear and, for goodness sakes, be honest with Him about how you have been living. All human beings will be confronted with fear and the good Lord knows that. But enduring happiness is found in them obey God’s great command to “fear not” and choose love instead. Do you want to find your missing happiness? Get rid your fear…

Just some good thoughts…

Judge Not…


download (1)I have noticed, in my brief stint on earth, how people love to judge you and form opinions about the type of person you are. For awhile, as an avid red wine enthusiast, I used to post pictures of myself on Facebook trying different Cabernets, Pino Noirs, Malbecs and Merlots to name a few. My hope was that other red wine drinkers would be inspired by my posts and share some of their favorites as well. It didn’t take long before being a red wine drinker became my entire identity to the point where my wife advised, “You need to stop with all the wine posts because that is all that people think you do!” How sad? How narrow? It seems social media has morphed into a breeding ground for judgment and criticism. Some folks are angry with you for appearing to enjoy your life and, God forbid, posting pictures of yourself having fun. Other folks want to pick a fight with you concerning your views. Don’t even mention politics! Even more strange, certain people feel quite indignant that a fellow human must be exaggerating their good times and should post a more shitty, realistic view about their present situation. Again, how narrow? How sad? What is it about people that has led them to this place of criticism and harsh judgments? Why won’t they choose to judge not? 

I think the only logical explanation for the overflow of judgments is that the world and its systems has worked over the masses to the point where people are judging themselves so negatively that they can’t help but judge everyone else as well. People have been trained to search for the wrong in themselves and following a natural course, see the wrong in others as well. People judge where you work; the type of work you do; where you live or don’t live; the type of car you drive; how you dress and on into infinity. Folks just love to find out your faults, your weaknesses, so that they might feel just a little bit better about themselves. Further, those judgments are fraught with generalizations that fail to take into account the human being behind the actions. And all the time, beneath the judgments is a person that does not feel good about themselves. You wouldn’t be so quick to judge if you didn’t feel so judged yourself. In its basic essence, you tend to give out what you are inside. Judgment of people is a harsh reality festering in the heart of the one doing all the judging. You and I cannot possibly know what is going on inside another person; their motives; their reasons; their why. All we can do at best is look on the surface and form a few opinions. In this, when we judge other people, we are wrong. Judging another person has never led to improvement in a person, but instead only serves to fracture and break up the relationship. Judgment brings out cruelty in people. It offers the ever false promise of maybe feeling better about ourselves. Yet, we will never feel better about ourselves by pushing others down, no matter how justified we may feel. The way you persuade that old heart of yours is by building others up. You feel better about yourself when you hand out a little empathy, a little compassion coming from a place that knows how easy it is to get screwed up in life and how many times you have been there yourself. Sometimes what people need most from you is a pass. A great man once said, “Love sees more but is willing to see less!” A close friend of mine once remarked, “Don’t look at people too closely!” In other words, what people need most is love and a lot of forgiveness, not judgment. 

It may surprise you to know that our great God is not a fan of judgment. The reason for the law of the Old Testament wasn’t to condemn and criticize people, but rather to establish a standard for what sin was in order to send a Redeemer from sin and its claims on mankind. Jesus Christ fulfilled that just standard by living the law perfectly so you and I wouldn’t have to! Remember, Jesus came not to condemn but rather to help; to offer a sin sick and sorrowful world a chance at life. He hung out with the publicans and sinners because those are the ones that needed his help. He didn’t choose to judge people but instead left the judgment with God, whose judgment is always just. And, incredulously, that same God made a way for His precious man to escape the confines of sin and live his life without judgment because of the accomplishments of another man; His son. God’s will is that we do not judge and He gave us a way to cleanse our own hearts to help us not judge other people. Who are we to say that our own mistakes and endless foibles are any less than an another man’s errors? When we finally get a good taste of what God did for us with His son on the cross, we can finally rid ourselves of the cruelty of judgment towards other people. God works in your heart to see and love like He does. The least I can do is offer you forgiveness remembering how many times God has forgiven me.

Obviously there are times when you acknowledge wrongs done to others and you don’t have to pretend to like it. But even then, it’s not our job to judge folks. Judgment hurts people and wounds their tender hearts. Even a child knows the sooner they acknowledge their wrong done and say they are sorry, the sooner they will feel good about themselves again. Similarly, people are going to make mistakes at times; sometimes epic blunders, but when that happens they don’t need your judgment to get better, they need your love. They need your willingness to never bring it up again! And, the world would be a better place because of it. I know how easy it is to get caught up in it at times especially when everyone else seems to be doing it as well. But, it is the wrong space from which to operate. It serves no other purpose than to glorify the insidious one behind it; the one working in the situations to bring about the pain and loss; the enemy of mankind behind every wrong that was ever done. It is much better therefore, to try and live your life without all the judgment, beginning with yourself. Give yourself a break and stop listening to the accuser. You are not the mistakes you have made, you are a person with a heart; a good heart. God looks on your heart! Forgive yourself for being a human and extend that heart to other people. That is what God wants you to do. 

At the end of the day, this life is challenging enough without judging people from here to breakfast. Folks have enough challenges to surmount without the added pressure of negative judgments. Someone might be behaving like a real stinker right now, but haven’t you been that stinker yourself at times? Not being judgmental does not require that you ignore all of the wrongs done in this life, but rather asks for compassion for your fellow man. You don’t know all that is involved, only God knows that. Let God do the judging and know that He desires for all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Who knows, maybe your acts of compassion and empathy might be all a person needs to finally turn their life around. Love people like your Momma loved you! Judge not! 

Just some good thoughts…

Living Your Best Life…


5-30-people-jumpingI’m sure you already know this by now, but our time on the earth is frightfully short. What seems like forever when we are twenty quickly turns into forty, fifty, then enter our sixties and beyond. And even though us believing types can look forward to the opportunity to live forever, life on this planet is short, damn short. We have a finite number of days to live this life and more importantly to enjoy our time here. For this reason alone, we owe it to ourselves to live our best lives now. What will it take for you to be living your best life now?

It seems near the top of our pursuits is built into us the desire to be happy. We all know and love how happy feels, yet we aren’t always happy. We let circumstances and people and unresolved situations get on top of us and rob us of our enjoyment. We get caught up in things that don’t help us nor lead us to our own personal fulfillment. We waste days and months and years being afraid of things and doubting ourselves from sunup to sundown. In short, we don’t cooperate with our own selves to do the things that bring about our best lives, being the best person we can be in each category of our experience. Instead, we work at cross purposes with ourselves and work against our own best interests. We don’t properly honor ourselves nor give ourselves a chance to get it right. We judge ourselves, berate ourselves, punish ourselves and hurt ourselves. We live amidst a perpetual state of seeking, yet not obtaining; striving, yet not making progress; attempting, but failing and never actually arriving at the place we see so clearly in our hearts. And, the million dollar question is why?

I think the main reason this happens to us is because we refuse to take on the central issues of our lives. We know we desperately need more money, but don’t do the things required to make more money. We live with some negative aspect of our personality, yet never take it to heart and resolve ourselves to repair it. We settle for less than we deserve across a multitude of spectrums. We know the changes we need to make in our relationships, yet spend a lifetime playing the victim, instead of speaking up and saying what it is we really need and want. We know very clearly the changes that are needed, yet are loathe to make the changes. We have all the excuses in the world and we stand by them. And, if we are honest, it usually isn’t our whole lives that need revision, but instead a few pivotal themes that hold us back from being the person we know to be. For this reason, we owe it to ourselves to take on the challenges in our lives and win the fights. Our best life is waiting for us to do it.

There is still another important variable in beginning to live our best lives and that variable is time. The competition we are all in means at times things will challenge us and confront us and even in some cases, assault us. We are in a fight; a fight between good and evil. When we are winning the fight, we will be living our best lives. When we are losing the fight, even temporarily, we will not be living our best lives and will instead be succumbing to fear and misery and defeat. Whole lifetimes can be lost to fear; to guilt and self-judgment; in circumstances that appear beyond our control or ability to impact. Yet, that is when we are being deceived. There is always something we can do to remedy situations because God is on our side. And most importantly, the time to fight back is when you are in the fight. Waiting and waiting to take on areas of your life you know are defeating you is simply prolonging your own happiness and joy. You may not know all of the variables yet, but you do know where you struggle. Once you become more clear concerning the brevity of life, the more important it will become to you to deal with and resolve the issues of your life. And as much as you may not want to hear it, you have to fight back. You have to quit assuming you were dealt a lousy hand; didn’t get the advantages that others enjoy; have suffered more than your fair share of difficulties. All of those things may be quite true because we have a cruel opponent, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot overcome and ride on the high places of the earth. Living your best life equals having a willingness to take on those areas that cause you suffering and to take them on now!

Living our best lives is being happy and enjoying our experience of life. Life is to be enjoyed. All of that striving and working and pressing and grinding, though it may lead you somewhere, is the tell-tale sign you are trying to do it without God. You are driving yourself to the bone to obtain something God would freely give you if you let Him. Sure you must work, sure you have to supply effort, sure you need to engage yourself with your whole heart, but your best life will be found when you stop trying to control every aspect of your own life and let God do what He promised He would do. You cannot control the world, other people or the adversary for that matter. But, you can control your thinking and stop allowing those negatives to shape your life. You can choose to stop allowing your opponent to define the narrative concerning what you must have; what you must have accomplished; who you must be in order to be happy and instead define those things for your own self. You will find that your personal happiness and fulfillment will come as a result of making your own way in accordance with the things that matter most to you. Your best life is your happiest life, your most enjoyable life. What things take away your happiness? What obstacles impede your ability to enjoy life? What things are you doing and saying to yourself that limit you and cause you to settle for less than the best; God’s best? That my friends is the best place to start and you need to start right now!

Living your best life is loving and appreciating this experience we call life and learning how to do it in the best way. We are all on our own personal journey with warnings and signposts along the way. Pay attention to things and carefully note those aspects of life that curtail your enjoyments; take away your peace; severely hamper and impede your progress and set about to defeat them. Take things on with God’s loving help along the way. The God who invented life knows exactly how to live it and He wants you to discover that for yourself. He dislikes religion and obligatory activity even more than you do. You won’t find your best life listening to everything people say is wrong. You’ll find it when you begin to trust your own heart and do the things that lead to your own personal fulfillment and happiness. You can be everything you always wanted to be in every aspect of life, if you’ll just get serious about getting there.

This life we are living is frightfully short, but won’t you be glad in the end that you found happiness and love along the way? Live your best life now. You owe that to yourself!

Just some good thoughts…

Be Good to Yourself…


shutterstock_1392252401Recently, while enjoying a glorious weekend away playing golf in Palm Springs during my first ever men’s trip, I had an astounding epiphany. On the inside, in the quiet place where nobody goes but you, you are having a relationship with yourself. I know it sounds weird, but your capacity to think and consider means the ability to draw conclusions about yourself, both good and bad. You weigh evidence, listen to people’s opinions, estimate your place in the world, evaluate your own behaviors and actions and finally arrive at some end point wherewith you consider your own worth and value. Maybe it is better described as your self-image. But, no matter how you get there, you are making decisions about how you should treat yourself, what you should say to yourself and what it is you deserve from yourself. Ultimately, you are choosing how you should interact with yourself. And in that vein, from personal experience and a multitude of interactions with other people, I’m guessing those interactions are not always good. In fact, if someone could actually hear your private thoughts, I think it is safe to say you are saying anything but good things to yourself. Oh my friends, you need to be good to yourself.

How could a man or a woman get to the place where they are treating their own selves poorly? Having only one precious life and one shot at this thing, how does a person become convinced to function as their own worst enemy? What must take place in our minds day after day, that leads us to the place where we are at odds with our own selves; where we need constant validation and affirmations; where we cannot trust own assertions and opinions about important things? How do we sink to the low places whereby every negative, outside opinion concerning ourselves sends us reeling into self-doubt and second guessing? It is not just how life is and everybody doesn’t do it to the same degree. As crazy as it seems, we are doing it to our own selves. We are actively opposing our own best interests. Every parent learns eventually that they have to love the negative behaviors out of their children rather than attempting to beat it out of them with threats and punishment. Yet, here we are as adults approaching ourselves with contempt and even disgust for who we are or for what we have done or maybe not done. Something has gone awry in our thought processes. Something or someone has worked us over. Something or someone has broken us down inside, in our own hearts and in our minds. We have listened to and considered influences outside of ourselves and have drawn conclusions that guarantee our perpetual defeat. We need to learn or relearn how to be good to ourselves.

It’s interesting to think that children do not naturally draw negative conclusions about themselves, that is until they learn to do so. In fact, children don’t give much thought concerning themselves at all. They just move along nicely, anxious to get past troubles and return to enjoying life. It is not until they get much older that they learn to chastise themselves and beat themselves up. If you think about it logically, what value is there in thinking poorly about yourself? When you chastise and berate yourself, who is the winner? Has any of your self loathing ever led you to a better place? Does constant criticism and fault finding lead anyone to a better place? Further, does mental self-abuse or self-torture change any of the mistakes you may have made or erase painful memories? Yet here we are mature adults continuing to play in a game we cannot win, doing things that only promise us defeat. These issues are indeed part of the human condition, but they are not inherent in human beings. We all have the ability to change our opinions of ourselves and we all have the right to stand up for ourselves. Our failure is not in failing to think positively, but instead failing to recognize what is really going on. We have become blinded to our own reality by habituation and repetition. Something isn’t right or true because you have done it a lot. Your opinion of yourself may have been forged over decades of time, but that doesn’t make it a reality unless you have concluded it so. Thus your job, my job is to gain some clarity about what is going on and make the necessary changes. You have to learn to be good to yourself in the same way you know to be good to someone else whose struggles you are trying to alleviate.

Being good to yourself means being willing to give yourself a break. If you listen to the devil long enough, you will end up thinking you are more evil than he is. He will drive your mistakes, your shortcomings down your throat until you arrive at the place he chooses. Then, your days will be spent judging yourself and confirming his negativity until you die. Well, why sit we here until we die? For God’s sake, are you really that bad? Are you truly the personification of evil because you have a few areas where you fall short? Isn’t it even possible that you continue to fall short because of what it is you are thinking about yourself? Maybe, just maybe you are bringing the trouble on your own self because of how you have been “trained” to think. I can assure you that the things you do are what most people do and we aren’t all that dissimilar at all. We are human beings and at best limited in our scope and understanding. And to take it step further, maybe the things you think are wrong with you aren’t wrong with you at all. Maybe you are a human being with all of the myriad thoughts and feelings that accompany being a human. Maybe you are functioning just as God intended for you to function requiring some adjustments that make sense as you learn and as you grow. My friends, being a human being means you have to learn to forgive yourself. It means you have to learn how to love yourself and continue to love yourself. It means you have to get past this preoccupation with your self and your sins and just accept what God did for you in the life of His son. You will never overcome the weaknesses of your humanity on your own, so you may as well cut yourself some slack along the way. The devil is a liar. Learn to think properly concerning yourself. Make your mind your friend. Speak to yourself like you would speak to your friend whom you love. Be kind to yourself. Love your self. Offer yourself some compassion and some empathy. Lord knows it’s hard enough to be a human without adding brutal scourging towards your own self. And most importantly, stop judging yourself. Negative self-judgment is the entire basis on which all self deprecation; all internal defeat is built. And negative self-judgment is the one thing God did away with in Christ Jesus. (That’s how big it is!) Refusing to judge yourself is as simple as refusing to continue considering all that appears wrong with you and choosing instead to consider all that is right with you; whom God made you to be; what God did for you that you could never do for yourself! Self judgment comes from the accuser and as such must be discarded at every turn.

At the end of the day, you only have one life to figure some things out. If your days have been less than the best, chances are you are not thinking properly about yourself. Chances are you are entertaining evil conclusions about yourself that did not originate with yourself. Chances are you have been deceived. Well, not to worry. You always have the opportunity to turn things around and our great God will help you to do so. Get off your own back. Give yourself a break. Forgive yourself for being so negative and get back on the path of life. Decide today to be good to yourself and to be kind in your dealings with yourself. Be on your own side for a change and see how much sweeter your life will become. Let God do the hard stuff. Be good to yourself…

Just some good thoughts…

A Fine Line…


TightropeMany years ago, as I sat alone outside my tent in the final days of the leadership training program waiting for the Lord to show me a sign that would make clear my ministry to help people the most effectually, nothing happened except a pervasive urge to read a section of scripture over and over again. There was no display in the heavens, no unusual, titillating revelation, nothing but an inescapable desire to read Isaiah 58 repeatedly. It wasn’t until some time after that I realized my purpose in life was to help people escape the confines of bondage and to live in the freedom that only God could provide for them. The call to loose the bands of wickedness and let the oppressed go free remains within me unto this day. As such, I’m very clear concerning the fine line between truth and error; between freedom and bondage; between works and the grace of God. Indeed there is always a fine line.

The grace of God is one of the most incredible aspects of our Father, God. Grace is God’s undeserved, divine favor bestowed upon people without a cause; without deserving it; without any works on the part of the people to obtain it. God’s unending grace is on display in the life of His son who fulfilled the law forever setting mankind free from the claims of sin and wrong. You and I could never achieve this on our own. Instead we rely upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is called a finished work because it is finished. Jesus lived God’s law perfectly because we couldn’t do it on our own. And in so doing he set us free from the clutches of our adversary and sin and wrong forever. All that we have or could ever hope to be is based upon the grace of God. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. As such, it always astounds me when people begin to worry that we as believers could somehow take grace too far. There is no end point with grace or it wouldn’t be grace. Undeserved, divine favor will always be undeserved. If at some point, I need to deserve grace or else do something to encourage grace to continue, then I have forfeited that grace. I need not concern myself with whether or not people are using grace in order to sin as sin has its own misery. If God says I will never come into judgment from Him, then I will never come into judgment with Him. To infer that God is not pleased with me also infers that God is judging me. God may not be pleased with my behavior, but He is never displeased with me. Otherwise, my favor would needs be earned from Him and I could never live up to that requirement. If you think about it, we already wrestle with endless accusations that inform us in some way that God is not pleased with us. Yet those accusations can never be true or else it wouldn’t be truly finished. It is finished.

People that choose to live like hell have their own suffering. You don’t have to tell people to stop doing things that are wrong because the wrong itself punishes them and leads them to misery. As someone who has spent some time on the wrong side of the tracks, I can assure you that what people need when they are off track is healthy, abundant doses of love and forgiveness. It is the goodness of God that leads us to a change of heart, not a lecture. The people that do not care about God won’t listen anyway. It’s those of us who do care that suffer the damage. I don’t believe that anyone on their own really wants to rebel against God, but in their deception they suffer loss. Our opponent is adept at leading us astray and when we recognize it (if by God’s mercy we recognize it) then we need a way to come back home to the goodness we have forfeited. Jesus Christ is the way back home having done all for us in ways we could never do on our own. It’s like when someone talks about being greedy and then we, the tender hearted ones, consider it. Yet the people who are actually greedy never give it a second thought! What people need is unconditional love from the Father who loves us no matter what. Human beings are fragile enough without heaping burdens upon their heads; loads too heavy to bear. It is a fine line.

If God set us free then we are free. Absolute freedom is the ability to choose without the fear of retribution or loss. Compliance and obligation won’t get us there. Whenever we do things because of the fear of the consequences, we fall right back into the bondage God delivered us from. All things are lawful for me, but not all things build me up. All things are lawful for me, but some things hurt me and do not help me. You don’t have to tell people that, they already know it. It reminds me of the story of the poor alcoholic in the Foundational class on Power for Abundant Living. He came to church that day looking for answers, not further reminders of the desperate state he was already enduring. He was living that hell and came for help; help that only God could give by His mercy and grace. We, my friends, are no different. We all fall short and by God we know that. We go too far, we get deceived, we chase stupidity and error gets ahold of us. We find ourselves estranged, lost and heaven’s brass. Yet it is the grace of God that helps us get back to that safe place where our worthiness before God no longer comes into question. It is the finished work of Jesus Christ that we anchor ourselves to and then we can overcome and learn and get that much better. If my worthiness before God depends upon my own ability, God help me. Can you not see it? That old enemy of mankind, the accuser, is enough to contend with day by day without making it about me; what I do and what I might fail to do. You are preaching to the choir of which I am already a member. On my own I will always fall short, but with Him I will always win.

My dear brothers and sisters, there will always be a fine line between what is true and what is error. God, in His infinite wisdom, provided a way by which you and I could live in ultimate freedom. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Every place I am weak and deficient, God pours in more grace and in that grace enjoyed, I am free to make a better choice, not by compulsion, but by love. God loves us into loving ourselves. God has perfected forever those that believe on what His Word says. Don’t let anything or anyone ever cause you to doubt God’s love for you or to doubt that God has divine favor towards you. You cannot do anything that God isn’t already aware of and He still chose to love you. Live your one precious life in the freedom that God bought for you with the life of His son. Don’t be only half free, but fully free. “Love God, love your fellow man and do as you dang fool please!” Don’t complicate what God has made simple. It is a fine line and it is there for you to enjoy…

Just some good thoughts…

Holiday Musings…


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

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

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

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

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

Just some good thoughts.

Something is Supposed to Happen!


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

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

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

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

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

Just some good thoughts…

Enjoy Your Life…


3588855bb2e74867f7877d6b26470a98When you are a young person, you cannot wait to get older and do the things that adults can do. When you reach adulthood, you quickly learn that being an adult carries with it some responsibilities you hadn’t really thought all the way through. You take on those responsibilities and begin to figure things out. You work hard and seek out the resources you need for you and your young, budding family. You start to taste some success, admittedly some more than others, and before you know it, you find yourself in your thirties, then forties, eventually reaching middle age. Your children are likely grown or getting there and you start setting new priorities for your life. You settle into your middle aged life and because you worked hard, have more resources available to you and more time to devote to the things you enjoy most. And while you continue on your journey, the time comes when discussions involve retirement and you’ve entered your sixties. At some point you retire and it dawns on you that you cannot actually cheat Father Time as you see and feel the effects of age. And, as this progression continues and you aren’t getting any younger, some of the most simple things provide you with the most pleasure, much like how you started out. You look back on your life and recognize it for the journey it actually is and was. No one told you how to do your thirties or your forties or your sixties. In fact, no one told you hardly anything about aging at all. There was little to no advice about what to expect, what to plan for or how best to live your life along the way. And as you approach the ending no one really wants to consider, the only question remaining will be, did you enjoy your life? Did you engage your mind and your heart in the things that matter most? Did you enjoy your days as you lived them or were you always trying to get to the next place? Did you savior the beauty of today or was your habit to postpone all enjoyment for the future when you finally had it all figured out with resources untold? No matter your present age, the question is, are you enjoying your life? 

Life is vary similar for us all. By the time we have gained a little wisdom, we will have already had our fair share of bumps and bruises. We will have endured some catastrophes and survived. We learned tough lessons. We maybe screwed things up quite a bit. We had weaknesses and issues that took us years to overcome. We might have failed, succeeded and failed again. All of this is common to the human experience. It will happen or has happened in some capacity to us all. Yet all these things are not the measure of our lives. The real measure is found in every day that happened in between those events. As much as we didn’t like it, did we fight through those tough times? Were we able to find happiness and love despite the obstacles? Did we learn early enough that the real blessing and enjoyment we found came from those who we lived life with? All of the hours we spent raising children and caring for them and making sure they had everything they needed were all insignificant in comparison to the love we shared and do share with them. And in the midst of all that stressful endeavor, I sure hope you enjoyed them. Those countless hours you spent at work, striving to be the best, to be successful, to earn, to provide for your family, again lose their value if you were not able to enjoy those folks you saw everyday and with which you were blessed to interact. Every successful marriage has its fair share of challenges as should be expected from two people growing, changing and interacting every day. Yet for all of the fights, the silent treatment, the unrealistic expectations and demands, stands alone the absolute joy of having someone close and intimate from which to enjoy your life in all of its varied experiences and emotions. Who can compare to “your person” that understands all of your human frailty but continues to love you nonetheless? My point, lest you miss it, is that you have one life to enjoy, to learn, to grow and to overcome and only one life to live on Earth. Enjoy your life…

All of us love a sunny day as well as congenial circumstances of favor and plenty. None of us take delight in the struggles. We all long for a time when things always work out and every effort we supply has a grand result. We are all happy when things are going right and we are all unhappy when we find ourselves pressed and tried. Life, this life, is often unfair and lacking in the justice we would expect. Picnics get rained on and beach days suddenly turn cold. Vacations get cancelled and glorious outdoor weddings are hurriedly moved indoors. Circumstances change, our feelings change, we’re up, we’re down, we are beside ourselves and we are blessed. It is this life we have now and it is ours to choose to enjoy. We cannot allow circumstances to define our happiness anymore than we can leave our enjoyment in the hands of other people. Instead enjoyment is found when we slow down a bit and savior the fullness of our experience; when we take the time to look around at all that we have instead of that which we perceive we lack; when we look full on in the faces of the people we love and communicate with our hearts, embracing tender feelings towards them. This is the real beauty and essence of life. This is the life God envisioned for us. Enjoy your life…

Wisdom need not be reserved for the aged. You don’t have to be in your golden years before you finally understand that all along you only had one life to live with every conceivable decision in between. You don’t have to wait for some future day when all of your needs will finally be met. You don’t have to postpone your happiness until you find “your person.” It was never about your car or your house or your bank account. Life, your life, is to be lived today to the absolute full. Let tomorrow be what it wants for your life is found in today, right now. In the grand words of Emerson, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety. Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in. Forget then as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

Enjoy your life…

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…