Better Days…


It’s funny how life is at times. You sort of go along to get along and adapt yourself to the times and conditions, the best you can. Crazy things happen and continue to happen and you somehow figure out a way to cope with it. Often, you find yourself endeavoring to compartmentalize and where possible, minimize or attempt to minimize, how things are affecting you and what is going on inside your heart. This is, in so many ways, the human experience. The phrase, we are all in this thing together, is not a cliche, but the reality of our condition as an interconnected people on the earth. And in similar fashion, sometimes it takes a dramatic shift in those conditions for you to realize just how bad things had gotten when you are, at last, presented with a new set of options; hopeful, encouraging options. In this I submit to you, there are better days ahead.

In our quest for truth and sincere desire to place ourselves on the side of right, we can be led down paths that disagree with who we are at the very core of our beings. We can find ourselves supporting some cause that promises good, yet forces us to ignore too much bad. Sometimes, our idealism and wishful thinking can blind our eyes to the stark reality of things as they really are. We can get deceived in the appeal of the message and laud the message so reverently, so desperately, that we miss the rest of the message veiled within the message. The acid test of the truth; the reality check to apply is whether the truth is true in every aspect and engages every component. Being forced to ignore and disavow some parts in favor of other parts is to deny the common sense that God gave to every man. Further, to believe that evil is hiding in the good or that the apparent good cannot be trusted, while vehemently denying the existence of the obvious bad, is not sound. God does not work through evil to bring about good. God never asked for us to compromise on right principle in exchange for some greater right principle. And while every man has faults and failings, those faults are known to the man and he is loathe to deny them privately or when confronted publicly. Wrong is wrong is wrong though the entire world says otherwise. Every man is therefore known by his fruits. Good fruit cannot come from a corrupt tree and corrupt fruit cannot come from a good tree. In a sense one needs to look no further. To say, as a Christian, that an allowance must be made or certain behaviors ignored that would not be allowed or ignored in those people we hold most dear, is hypocrisy at the highest levels.

Sadly, these past four years have been a blight on the American experience. We, as a nation, have been forced to flinch and halt and stutter, desperately trying to make sense of what has been going on. Inside we know it’s wrong. In our hearts, we have felt embarrassment and shame in terms of the things we know to be right. Try as we might to justify our opinions, more often fears cleverly appealed to and fanned, has led our nation to become divided. In our temporary insanity, factions have formed, not based on securing the greater good, but instead appealing to a more base level inside of us, stoked by the terror of losing some favor, some position, some enjoyed good. And just as a corrupt tree produces only corrupt fruit, actions and beliefs based on fear cannot help but to produce more fear, more division, more destruction. This has been the American experience these past four years. This is not a political struggle or attempts to champion conservative or liberal ideas or agendas, nor has it been about bringing about a better experience for people all over the world. It has been about the power that fear has over people causing them to abandon even their most basic and simple principles in an attempt to fight against an enemy not in evidence but potentially in evidence in the days ahead. Fear that villainizes people of color or immigrants or any group that is different than one’s own comfortable circle. Allowing people to choose their own lives, right or wrong, good or evil, is at the foundation of our country’s beliefs and any attempt to take away that free will or exclude it from our existence by rules and regulations is contrary to the very concept of a free people. There was a time when we understood this.

Thankfully, there are better days ahead, not because one man has all the answers or because one man alone can right the train and move it in the right direction. But rather, because a world where common sense is ignored; where real facts are discarded as lies; where the reality of things is discounted and maligned is not a world we can survive in, let alone thrive. The promise isn’t found in a Democratic party or a new President, but instead in a healthy return to common sense where words mean something and actions are judged for what they are, not what someone hopes they will be or by what other influences claim them to be. A world where black is black and white is white. A world where wrong is wrong always and right is offered the same privilege. A world based on foundational principles that offer every man a choice in participating in what is, not in what reportedly is while clearly contradicted in every apparent, visible action.

In this, as a nation, we must learn the lesson, namely, to never again allow a person or an idea to prevail over what is obvious or by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Never again America, no matter the political party.

Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string (RWE).

Bless God, there are better days ahead!

Religion And God (Are they the same thing?)


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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you.

Just some good thoughts…

When the Dust Settles…


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

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

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

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

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

Just some good thoughts…

 

Inside Out…


Did you know that the outer conditions of your life are an exact reflection of what goes on inside your head? What you are on the inside that no-one else can see forms the basis for the circumstances you encounter most frequently. Your life is lived from the inside out. You cannot be successful in the outside world without first being successful in your mind and you cannot fail in the outside world without first failing in your mind! Your mind; your heart is the starting point and from it the issues of your life pour forth! Life is truly lived inside out…

Most people think that life happens to them and that they are powerless to change it. They feed their minds with negatives all day and night. They speak negatives, read negatives, harbor negatives, look for negatives, expect negatives and spread negatives. They rehearse situations in which they are always being done wrong in some capacity. When opportunity presents itself they discount it immediately. They are suspicious and wary ever waiting for the axe to fall, the apparent good to prove itself untrue, the catch that’s lurking just out of view. They become convinced their scenario is going to turn out badly and when it does (as it necessarily must) they say, “See there? I told you so!” They never consider the important role they play in the outcome but instead attribute it to luck or fate or worse as being somehow a part of God’s will. Thus, and forgive my bluntness, if your life sucks, it’s because you suck, at least as far as your thinking is concerned! You cannot keep planting weeds and wonder when your flowers are going to show up! You cannot continue to dwell in darkness while searching for the light. You cannot think one way then expect to live another way. Your life is lived from the inside out…

Your life, be it wonderful or miserable, follows the patterns you have established. Where you see yourself is where you live. If you don’t expect much, you don’t get much. If you think you must struggle, struggle you will. If you believe that life is something you must endeavor to survive, survival will be the height of your achievements. If you believe you will always be poor, (for whatever reason you have manufactured) you will always be poor. If you fear sickness, dwell on sickness, think incessantly about sickness, you will most assuredly be sick. Conversely, if you expect good things to happen for you, good things will happen for you. If you believe you will prosper, you will prosper. If you are convinced that every obstacle you face can be overcome, you will find a way to overcome no matter how much the circumstances may appear to disagree. Assigning your fate to God or to life or to the world without taking any responsibility for your thinking is not taking responsibility for your own life. We all know instinctively that life works like this but discount it when it comes to what we think. If you are going to catch fish, you have to use the right bait. If you are going to hunt elk, you have to go to where the elk live. If you are going to make a lot of money, you have to go to work. You cannot fish with the wrong bait then get mad at God because you aren’t catching any fish. You cannot hunt for elk where elk do not live then curse the heavens for your bad fortune. You cannot refuse to work or offer your employer your absolute minimum effort, then blame the world for your poverty. Likewise, you cannot possibly expect to have a good life while all the time convincing yourself (through negative considerations) that your life will turn out badly. Your life is lived inside out…

What you think matters. Where you go in your mind in life’s situations matters. The things you feed your mind everyday matter. The outcomes you rehearse for yourself over and over and over matter. What you say about yourself and your life matters. And ultimately, what you believe in the depths of your heart matters. If you want a different outcome, you have to think in a different way. Wherever you are today, your thinking has led you there. Life is not unfair. Circumstances are unfair. Certain challenges you may face are unfair. People can be unfair, but life is not unfair. God has given you a way to overcome whatever you are up against, but it all starts with your thinking. Pay attention to your thinking.  Control your thinking.  Change your thinking. Stop allowing the world to dictate what you think about the most. Stop allowing circumstances to determine what it is you will believe. Put an end to any influence that leads your thinking away from God’s best for your life. Your life is lived from the inside out…

Your life is a direct reflection of your own expectations. Change your expectations. You change them! Quit dwelling on “what is” and dwell on what you want. See yourself successful. Expect things to work out. When you find yourself challenged, (and you surely will) look for the solution. With God there is always a solution. Separate yourself from the thoughtless herd ever plunging headlong into the abyss. Step out of line. Stop going with the flow, the majority, the world! Form your own opinions. The reason you think the way you think is because that is how you have been taught to think. You have been led astray. You’re a victim in a vicious cycle in which you are doing the spinning. Spin the damn thing in the opposite direction! You have already suffered enough hurt, enough disappointment, enough lack to know something isn’t right! It isn’t life, it is you. It isn’t God, it is you. It isn’t just the way life is, it’s the way you think (believe) life is. Sooner or later you have to realize life is lived inside out. MAKE YOUR INSIDE RIGHT!

Just some good thoughts…

 

Getting Out of Your Funk…


If you’ve spent enough time dwelling on terra firma, you know that at certain times in your life you find yourself deeply entrenched in a funk; an americanism for feeling down in the dumps; which is related to a dutch word meaning a mental haze; and in German a word for gloomy or depressed. No matter the language or the usage, all you know is that it sucks. It sucks away your life and enthusiasm for living. It’s no happiness, no inspiration, nothing to look forward to, blah, blah, blah…Blah! But, there is something you can do about it! No matter how far down the rabbit hole you are, there is always a way out…

The place to begin when attempting to understand your feelings is first to examine your thoughts. Thoughts precede feelings. You don’t wake up in a bad mood. Your bad mood follows where your mind has been. Most folks pay very little attention to their thoughts. They sort of let them come and go like the weather. They consider themselves blessed when their mental environment is sunny and cursed when it is gloomy. The weather never stays gloomy and you don’t have to either. However, you do have to take some initiative with your thoughts. Letting your thoughts run makes you a victim to whatever circumstance is being engineered against you. Please read that sentence again! There are forces at work in the world plotting and scheming, persuading and manipulating to lead you and your thoughts to a certain place. You cannot see them, but instead only register their effects. They gain access to you by the thoughts you allow and encourage. They cannot overtake your freedom of will (at first), but they can get you off track; way off track! They begin by getting you to consider some negative aspect of life, then work out circumstances and situations that corroborate your wrong thinking.  And, if you remain stuck there long enough, you find yourself submerged and engulfed in heaviness from which it becomes very difficult to escape.

Life is spiritual in nature. It is not made up solely of the things which do appear. Ignorance concerning this will mire you in futility chasing your own tail, searching yourself and your own feelings for a remedy. Yet, you won’t find your solution in your own thoughts because the problem didn’t originate in your own thoughts. You are not fighting against yourself, though it may feel like it, you are fighting against a negative spiritual opponent working behind the scenes to control you. To defeat this spiritual foe (behind all of the misery of mankind) you have to learn how to compete spiritually. You have to learn how to fight back. And, amazingly, the arena of competition is in your mind. You see, it’s not as simple as deciding to be happy, though that is a good start. It is learning how and what to think and holding on to those thoughts though a monument of resistance be placed in front of you. If you find yourself today steeped in misery or unending gloominess, it is a good indicator that you are not winning the fight. You never want to get comfortable with those negative emotions or embrace them as some incredulously purport. Instead you fight them and you fight them and you fight them with spiritual words that negate and overpower their authority. Refusing to fight back only leads to defeat. Or worse, explaining away those insidious attacks with man’s wisdom will only serve to prolong the fight. You only win a fight by being stronger or tapping into something stronger than whomever or whatever you are fighting against. Evil has power but it is no match for God’s power.

It certainly doesn’t make for light conversation to learn about standing against evil. It probably won’t be found in the self-help section of the bookstore. Public opinion poo poo’s the notion of evil altogether or portrays it as a construct of man. The movie media displays it as frightening and ghastly. But, no matter the babblings of the naysayers, it does exist and it is your problem. God does not want you to be ignorant concerning evil, nor does He want you to be afraid of it. Instead He wants you understand what is actually going on so you can direct your efforts appropriately and with great and lasting impact. People are stuck today ensconced in difficulties because they no longer understand or acknowledge spiritual realties. When Jesus stood against all the forces of hell, he did so simply, though not easily, by quoting and cleaving to what God’s Word said. It is God’s Word quoted on the lips of believing that defeats the powers of darkness. It is the only way.

You can be delivered today, rescued, set free by learning how to tap into God’s power for your life. It doesn’t matter how low you may have sunk or how entrenched you may have become. All you need is a little humility and a willingness to learn about spiritual realities. You can escape any of the chains that have been binding you; break free from any bondage; break out of the bands and fetters that have been controlling your life. You can learn again how to live and enjoy and be blessed. You can return to happiness and joy and peace and love. You can escape from the prisons that have been holding you in. Stop thinking that something is wrong with you or that you are somehow deserving of the misery you have been living. Stop settling for less than the best in your life. You don’t need more medicine or more treatment or more of the expertise of men. You need God and His Word.

Finding yourself in a deep funk; down in the dumps; in a mental haze; gloomy and depressed is a horrible way to experience life and you do not have to live that way. There are answers and solutions for any malady that challenges your life. Won’t you be willing to find your way out of your funk? I sure hope so…

Just some good thoughts…

 

What I Know for Sure… (Birthday Blog)


As I reflect on another trip around the sun, there are, in the words of Oprah, some things I know for sure. For one, life is short. One day you are 30, then suddenly you’re 50 and before you know it, you’re 80. You live the day and the days keep on moving forward. Days turn into months, months turn into years and years become a lifetime. Early on you’re figuring out children and finances, struggling to find your place in the world. Then, your kids are grown and you are no longer so focused on your money or your place. Now you are someone’s grandpa and the grey haired manager at work. You’ve got more money and more time and you find yourself contented with less. Words like retirement start popping up and although you aren’t as old as your dad was at the same age, you have to give it some thought. Curiously, you find yourself considering your legacy; what you would want your children or other people thinking about when they remembered you. Did you ever answer the question of who you were?

With the passing of time comes wisdom. You’ve lived long enough and screwed it up often enough to finally consider your ways. Yet, you recognize all that time you spent judging yourself was wasted time. You see things for what they are and understand that life always has choices and though you chose wrong a thousand times, you can always choose right. And, it dawns on you that you also chose right a thousand times and maybe didn’t recognize it at all. Instead of measuring and evaluating yourself by your mistakes, you can put those mistakes in perspective and see how little a part they played in the grand scheme of your life. Once you finally stop judging yourself, you find you stop judging other people as well. You understand that they, like you, are also learning and developing and you are viewing them at only one place along their journey.

Instead of seeing life as a whole, you see it in all of its parts. There are good parts and bad parts, exciting parts and boring parts. There are times of rejoicing and there are times of sorrow. You succeed and you fail. You fall down and you get back up. You get your ass kicked for a time, then you kick some ass yourself. You long to live your life in perpetual comfort, but learn that much of life is uncomfortable, at least for a little while. You wish for life without challenges, but acknowledge that the challenges help you grow. You know you have an opponent in life and obstacles, but you figure out how to make sure the enemy isn’t you. Simple things become the best things. Complexity belongs to error. You can finally admit you have some weak spots and in so knowing can finally build yourself up. It also dawns on you that you have some gloriously strong parts and you can figure out how to tap into them as often as possible. Don’t discount the value of being able to make someone smile or lift them up and out of their misery. You see the power of your words and how you wield them, and thus use them to bring light and not darkness. You can appreciate the pain you have endured, not for having it, but for how it forced you to find the way out of it.

Life is full of change and nothing stays the same, except for God. No matter how low you have descended, or how far down the rabbit hole you may have ventured, He will give you the same love when you return. One thing is faithful and it is Him. He loves you when you do not love yourself. He provides help when you aren’t asking for help. He is the one great constant in life. He doesn’t change His nature. He does not do people harm. He is the polar opposite of the world’s portrayal of Him. He is not following you around pointing out your moral deficiencies. He is not judging you. You experience those things at the hands of His opponent, who is ever portraying himself as something he is not. God doesn’t make you feel bad ever. He makes you feel good. He is the goodness you have always dreamed of and He always will be. My life today would not be the life it is without Him. The times He has answered me, rescued me and picked me up out of life’s gutters, I cannot count. The insights, the inklings, the tips and clues are without number. He loved me into loving myself and did it again and again and again. One thing I know for sure is that God is only good always…

Life, this life always has the promise of good things. Pretty soon you find yourself more clear on how to access those good things. You discern your own cooperation with the madness and stop cooperating. You at last see the part you play and make better plays. Sure, you still fumble at times, but you don’t let your head stay there. You stay clear on all of your touchdowns and let the missteps go. In short, you love yourself and continue to love yourself, bulges, sore knees and all. You become adamant not to be against yourself any longer. You know God loves you and you walk out with that love. And, you get busy healing and helping and lifting and loving. You see humanity surging with pain and grief, disappointment and loss, and you get in there and offer them something different; something wonderful instead. This, my friends, is a life well lived.

I’m not done yet of course and have a lot left to learn and to do. No regrets at all… Looking forward to another trip around the sun and more time to love and to bless.

Life is good.

Just some good thoughts…

How to Get Back Your Tender Heart…


The number one reason people feel unhappy and unfulfilled in their lives is due to hardness of heart. Hardness of heart is subtle in that when your heart has gotten hard you are no longer aware of it, much like a callous on your hand. You can no longer discern you are getting poked! Today we focus on what you can do to get back your tender heart. I say back because your heart started out very tender, like the heart of a child, but the world and circumstances, disappointments and failures, as well as error believed then practiced rendered your heart hard and lacking feeling. It left you desensitized and numb to the true realities of life; those realities God wants you to experience. So, how can you get back your tender heart?

If you strip away all of the trimmings; get beyond all external appearances; get down to the very heart of things, all of us are the same. And although people are as varied and unique as the stars in the sky in multitude, we all want the same things. We all need love and acceptance; to belong and to feel needed. We have similar fears and dreads as well as similar aspirations for good health and prosperity. We all seek to get our needs met and the needs of those we love. Keeping this in mind is a good starting point for maintaining a tender heart. No matter how someone appears to be, whether abrasive and apparently heartless, aggressive and inflammatory, behind the facade is a scared, helpless person. At any given moment in time, all you may be exposed to is a version of that person, completely dependent upon where that person is coming from at any given time. Fear, which is error (also called sin or literally a stepping aside), is the number one hardener of your heart. Fear attempts to puff you up with a foolish disregard for things or people in an effort to protect you. Fear stops you from displaying the kindness and tenderness that is inherent inside. Fear of rejection or fear of not fitting in with the group leads you to all sorts of things that aren’t really you at all. Getting rid of fear with all of its associated lies is the first place to go to get back your tender heart. There was a time when you weren’t afraid of everything, that is until someone or some people taught you otherwise. Fear is a lie and like every lie believed, hardens your heart. Get rid of your fear…

Error in its most basic essence is the polar opposite of truth. The only sure way to discern truth from error is to know and understand God’s heart for His people, which can be found in His Word. Error, though almost always appealing, carries within it the seeds of error that damage and corrupt the vessel. Something can look good and feel good; be completely accepted by society, but if it’s basic essence is based on error it will only serve to hurt you. It will degrade and blunt your sharpness leading to more error and more heartache. All of us succumb to error in one capacity or another, but what matters most is what is in our hearts. Your heart will always respond favorably to goodness, to kindness, to love. And accordingly, your heart will always respond negatively to evil; to those being mean-spirited, to hatred. Thus your responsibility is to make love your basic response. As a great man once said, “Love sees more but is willing to see less.” Love covers a multitude of sins, because love comes from your heart. You want your heart to be more tender? Give people love! Bathe them in it. Love anyway… Practice kindness with absolutely no fear of a lack of repayment. Be tender in your approach and don’t reserve that tenderness solely for your children or grandchildren. If you think that through a little, the reason we can be tender with a child is because we have no fear of our love being rejected. Well, here’s a newsflash, no matter how that adult responded or how they behaved in the moment, they appreciated your expression of love at least as much as that child did. Trust me on that one. You want a tender heart, give out love to everyone. Once you know something is error, get rid of it. Love is at the basis of every good thing, so get rid of error and live love…

So let’s be honest with each other now. The reason your heart has gotten hard is because you have been damaged. You’re not weak or too sensitive, as many would purport, but rather, living in the world today, chances are you have been assaulted many times by an enemy you can neither see nor discern. You have been assailed often unfairly by a system setup to hurt you and break you down. Your adversary seeks only to steal from you and as such he steals away your happiness, your tenderheartedness, your true feelings of love and compassion and he does so because he hates God and all that is associated with God. God isn’t your problem ever, but his opponent is. Thus what you need most is God’s healing. You need Him to right the ship. You need God to make your crooked places straight. You need God to heal your broken heart. God is able to restore your heart and teach you how to feel again. You need God’s unconditional love. You need to know in His sight you are worthy and worth something, not because of what you do, but because of what He did for you. God and God alone can restore your heart and make life worth living again. God can open the eyes of your heart to the greater realities of life and make your path clear and obvious. Then, filled with His love and goodness, you can reach out and help all those other poor souls suffering and navigating a miserable existence. You want your tender heart back, get God’s healing for your life…

A tender heart is the best kind of heart. Get yours back my friends…

Just some good thoughts…

What’s Been Bothering You Lately? (Getting Clear and Specific…)


Feeling agitated and uneasy, though increasingly more and more common, is not a human being’s natural state of mind. Troubling and distressing thoughts eat away at our physical health and erode our sense of well being. Stress, which is typically first experienced in the mind, has been known to critically damage the delicate nervous system and even has the capacity to eventually kill its owner!  Agitation and unrest do not come from God as His admonition is just the opposite. So, what can you do if you find yourself besieged with troubling thoughts?

The first clue, in the puzzle of agitation, is to get clear about exactly what it is that is bothering you. In living life, you will discover that unrest begets more unrest and agitation more agitation. It’s like losing a fight. The greater the barrage of punches, the harder it is to fight back. Your job is first to get yourself quiet on the inside. Go somewhere alone, calm yourself down and get quiet on the inside. Do some serious thinking about your perceived problem. Can you identify what it is? You will find, in your honesty and your earnest, that most of the troubling possibilities exist not today, but in some future state. Therein is your next clue! Possibilities that threaten you or brashly proclaim the potential to take something from your life, are just thoughts which have no power of themselves. Their power is gained by your consideration and acceptance of those rogue ideas. Once the water of your mind becomes troubled, it becomes very difficult to see the bottom of the pool, i.e. the source of your difficulties. Step one is always to get very, very  clear about whatever is bothering you. Real issues have a solution or some action you can take about them. Phantom issues (fear) require elimination from your thoughts.

The next remedy is found in specificity. The problems that confront us are generally full of tentacles, blending and enfolding together, making it hard if not impossible to discern where one part starts and another part ends. The devil thrives in convolution. Complexity intimidates us and in our diminished state we mash it all together in our minds, leaving it to be dealt with on another day. Often, after you’ve removed all of the red herrings, the real issue becomes quite clear. Focused thought is a powerful ally, but requires a willingness both to confront and subsequently take action on the problem at hand! There is no tomorrow in problem solving. Each day spent half-in, is a wasted day, appearing useful, but defeated before it began. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways!” Get specific about what is troubling you, as specific as you can be. Specific problems have specific solutions, while vague, convoluted problems have no end!

Once you’ve become crystal clear on the topic and precise in your identification, you must do the one thing you never dreamed you should do. Give your problem to God! That’s right, hand it over to Him. Release your death grip on it and remove its claws from your heart. Demand the courage to let it go. Look, if you’re honest, the reason you continue to wrestle with some unseen foe is precisely because of that, it remains unseen. If you knew the answer you would have already remedied it. The deception isn’t found in the assault on your mind, but rather the ongoing assaults as you try in earnest to figure it out. Some conundrums, some complexities you are never going to figure out. You’re chasing the rabbit down a rabbit hole that has no end point. The source of your troubles is always a spiritual opponent; one that depends upon your reliance on your own human reasoning. Once you finally get it, as a great man said recently, you get it! You at last begin to understand that you must fight your spiritual opponent with something bigger than your human brain. Prayers are God’s way of offering you help with things bigger than yourself. And best of all, with God, nothing is impossible!

The reason we allow ourselves to get so worried and troubled about things in life is because we have forgotten how to trust our Creator! Instead of following His original plan of living our lives freely, joyfully, giving all of our cares to Him, we have instead hewed ourselves out cisterns; broken cisterns that can hold no water. We have systems and plans and procedures. We have technology and information and science. We have almost all a person could ask for, yet we lack the one thing we need the most! Our life was never meant to be a futile effort in self-preservation. God never asked us to figure everything out for ourselves or to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. People made that crap up; the same ones filled with worries and anxiety and stress! Instead God asks only that we learn who He truly is and begin to understand who we are to Him. Once we see the big picture, the troubles of life fade away like the lies and threats they have always been. Getting to know your Heavenly Father ends in your realization that there is nothing in life bigger than Him, smarter than Him or more powerful than Him. Then, my friend, you can finally relax. You can end the game of “wits end” once and for all.

If you find yourself worried, harassed, perplexed or vexed, take solace in this, God will hear your prayers and lead you to your solution. Your worry and stress simply won’t get the job done and you already know that. Your mental churning and broiling, your thinking, analyzing and thinking won’t lead you to the answer. Instead, hand all of it over to God and when you realize you’ve taken it back, hand it over again! The solutions to problems don’t appear in stormy seas, but only when the waters are calm. Let God calm your waters so you can see! Let God do for you what you cannot do for yourself! Rest…

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

Who is Driving Your Bus? (Revisited)


There are only two basic motivators in life, love and fear. The life you are experiencing at this very moment in time is built upon the driving force behind your life. Love motivation is incapable of failing. Fear motivation, though appearing to feel safe and responsible, leads only to failure. If things aren’t going well for you it’s time to answer the question, “Who is driving your bus?”

Fear has become so prevalent, so accepted by society that most people think it is normal. Or worse, many people find themselves completely oblivious to the reality that fear is lying hidden behind most of the decisions they make. The world is indeed a scary place. There are so many things that can go wrong, some with catastrophic results. Recognizing, on their own, their apparent inability to control their own lives, people resort to fear of those negative outcomes and then take actions to try and alleviate those fears. Those actions encompass a whole, delusional world of behaviors all offered in response to something that was a lie to begin with. Fear, on its own, is not real. However, once a fear is believed and strengthened by actions associated with that fear, it takes on a life of itself. Most of the failures and difficulties that assault mankind, could have been remedied by a refusal to fear. Fear is indeed man’s greatest enemy.

All that a man receives into his life comes as a result of what he believes in the core of his being. That doesn’t mean that a man is specifically expecting certain negative outcomes, but rather that his belief that those outcomes could happen to him, open the door to all kinds of disasters. Those people you see living well do so by the things they believe for themselves. It isn’t that they are more highly favored than you per se,’ but rather that they maintain an expectation for the good in life and act accordingly. Thinking you were predestined to some sad life of failure and disappointment, isn’t a fate assigned to you by God, but instead some serious errors in thinking that led eventually to a belief. And once negatively believed (fear), the cycle plays itself out in infinite reality. The solution is to stop sending that negative information to your mind. Change your mind. You aren’t being mature, realistic or responsible, you are being afraid!

Free-will to believe is one of the greatest gifts God could have ever given to man. It is God’s solution. It is God’s answer. It is your God-given ability to take back control of your life. It is the most basic tenet of life; believe and fear not. When you disobey and choose fear, either by ignorance or wrong teaching, you receive the consequences of your choice. You receive negative results. You are misusing what God gave you. You are not properly stewarding your mind. For, out of your heart come the issues of your life! You cannot co-exist with fear. It doesn’t matter if anyone knows or doesn’t know you are afraid of things. You can put on the greatest persona ever seen, but in the end, you know when you are afraid and if persisted in it will produce a bad outcome in your life.

Fear can only be overcome by love. Actions based on love never fail to yield positive results. God is love. Learning to believe God’s promises allows God to perform those promises in your life. The dread of something horrible happening to your child cannot be salved by your million-fold efforts to protect him or her. Life is just too big for you to accomplish your mission. In fact, you likely do your children a huge disservice by teaching them to be afraid as well. Instead of worrying yourself into anxiety, you learn to trust God and believe what He says about protecting your family. Then, you act on that belief. You give them to God and leave them in His hands. In so doing and so acting, you have chosen love over fear and reap the blessed result of safe, happy children. You may apply this principle to everything that ever shook you up or took away your sleep.

You may not believe it yet, but God never intended for you to “do life” on your own! You have likely already proven this to yourself. How much failure and disappointment can one person endure? How long can you go on living without any real purpose in life? When is the last time you felt truly peaceful without a care in the world? Your life, if it lacks contentment and joy, is so because you are making decisions based on fear. You, as the playwright, are continuing to write a story wherein you always end up the loser! Then you blame life or worse God for an existence you are producing. But, no matter what has happened to you; no matter where you are today; no matter how far down the rungs of life you have fallen, there is always a solution. The solution is love, God’s love and all that accompanies that love!

Now hear what I’m saying! If you feel like your boss doesn’t like you and that makes you afraid, instead of spending your days fawning and sucking up (fear), believe for a new boss or a new job! If you are worried about diseases, stop reading up on them, stop dwelling on them, stop accepting their possibility in your life (fear). Instead believe God’s promises for your health and don’t give them another thought. (You would be surprised how many fears go away simply by refusing to think about them). If you are scared of not having your needs met (fear), stop telling everyone how poor you are and how you can never get ahead. Instead, confess those positive promises of prosperity in your life and act accordingly.

You see, at the end of the day, you only have one bus to drive and you are the driver! Take back the wheel of the bus! When you live in fear, you give control of your bus over to someone or something else. Instead of negotiating and choosing behaviors based on fear, just get back in the bus and start driving again! Whose driving your bus? I hope it’s you and that you are doing it with love…

Just some good thoughts…

When Life Goes South on You


Do you find yourself amidst what seems like an endless stream of difficulties? Have you suffered some recent loss which causes you to question your existence or for that matter, the existence of God? Do you feel like you are always paddling upstream and can’t seem to catch a break? Do you feel like, for reasons presently unknown, life has gone south on you?

First, it’s important for you to understand that life, at some point, takes a negative turn for all of us. The negatives that confront us and challenge us are a part of life not because it is God’s plan, but because of a violation of God’s plan that led to God’s enemy, the devil gaining access (by man’s choice) to God’s creation. God never intended for life to be so full of difficulties as His plan was just the opposite. But, because man has free will he can choose whatever he wills and at one time that choice introduced evil into the world. It is that evil, whether you believe it or not, that is behind every bad thing that ever happened to you. Life is not random and your struggles are not random. They were designed, planned, and artfully and masterfully executed by an opponent you cannot see nor readily discern.

No-one living is exempt from this conflict, though they pray a thousand well-intended prayers. It is just the way it is. God’s believing people are assaulted if not more than those who choose not to believe, because they belong to God. As such, God never promised life would be without the fight, but rather promised that in the middle of the fight, we can always win! There will be times when things go wrong on you or bad things happen to you causing you to wonder where God is… Your temptation will be to foolishly conclude that God isn’t there for you or worse that your own wrong behavior has led to all these difficulties. Well, the reality is that the challenges will come no matter how you behave. Of course, you can do your part to add difficulties to your life, but whether you brought it on yourself or your enemy just sucker-punched you, God’s will is always your deliverance; your recovery; your complete restoration to wholeness! And, He will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able along the way.

In order for you to aggressively fight back instead of quietly acquiescing or giving up, you first need know who and what you are fighting. If you think that God is behind your struggles, you could not be more wrong! If you have allowed someone to talk you into some nonsensical bullshit about how God has some greater plan for you and is thereby kicking your ass, or some similar phraseology that subtly assigns the present distressing evil to God, again you could not be more wrong! I can assure you that if God were behind your struggles, there would be no remedy! But, He isn’t behind it in any form or fashion, not even in the most minute detail. The reason you have even considered this notion is because that’s what people say; people wholly unaware of their opponent. It’s no accident however, because in order to whoop you up real good your enemy has to convince you first that he doesn’t exist and next that the trouble must be coming from God (Your only source of help!). Like I said, it is quite the masterful operation and it is causing you a lot of unnecessary pain.

So, here you are wondering what the hell happened to you and questioning your every thought, motive and behavior for the past 10 years. Question no further. Evil sucks and it’s after everyone. Remember the Apostle Paul from the Bible? He probably did this life thing a little better than you and me, right? Yet Paul, when accounting his troubles said, “Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.”  Capisce? You get it? The great Apostle Paul, God’s believing man, was challenged, not because of his sin or wrong, but because God’s enemy hated him and what he stood for in life! I mean come on! Once when he survived the shipwreck, as he gathered sticks to make a fire, a venomous snake came out of the wood and bit him. But, he just shook the beast off and kept on keeping on…

So what should you do when life seems to smack you in the face or gut punches you? Don’t spend a moment of time in consideration of how good or bad you are or worse what the evil lesson is trying to teach you! God doesn’t need the devil to help him teach you anything! Instead, go to God immediately looking for the solution. Whether it be restoration of your health or your finances or a relationship, get yourself to your only real source of help. Don’t fret yourself or allow yourself to be filled with anxiety because everything seems to be going south on you. God can show you and help you to get it going north again! But, like Paul, you have to keep moving forward. Your enemy walks about like a roaring lion seeking who he can devour. So, you can’t sit there paralyzed with fear waiting for the next catastrophe. You gotta get yourself up and move ahead. Don’t rehearse it to everyone you know or glorify the evil work by repeating the story a million times over. Get quiet in your heart, ask God for His help (as many times as you need to), and do your best to move forward. As you move, and not until you move, God will make the path clear for you. And after a time, He will even teach you what led to it so you can be that much stronger in the future.

Life goes south for everyone at one time or another, but that doesn’t mean you cannot prevail. Think good things about yourself and never again consider that God is behind your challenges. The adversary is behind your challenges and if you don’t fold, you cannot lose…

Just some good thoughts…