Managing Your Expectations…


manageAnyone who has ever been on a quest to find something or obtain something knows that things do not always move in your favor. The course that leads from where you are to what you want is rarely a straight line. Cause and effect are not free to play out perfectly because there are many other causes in play. The race does not always go the swift, as the Bible says, not because it should not work out that way, but because there are hinderances and obstacles built into the current systems of the world. There are opposing forces meddling in and interfering with the natural order of things. In a perfect world absent evil and evil influences all effort would have a just reward and all investment would result in some gain. A man or a woman who worked hard would always succeed and never risk losing that which they had already gained. Before Adam and Eve gave over their authority to evil, everything worked perfectly and beautifully. The creation thrived and brought forth bountifully. Yet once darkness gained access, thankfully a temporary condition, labor, sweat and toil became the norm. With that access came control over the systems of the world with persistent and pervasive difficulties and challenges intertwined. Which begs the question, how can God’s people still succeed and prevail in a world working tirelessly against them? One such remedy is found in learning how to manage your expectations. If what a man believes in his heart is what he will receive in this life, it behooves him to keep his expectations positive and abundant based not on what things look like, but rather, often in stark contrast, with what things God promises in His Word, the Bible. You have to manage your expectations.

It is obvious to all of us that it seems the things you want and need the most appear to be the hardest to receive. Some people attribute this to God himself as either rewarding good behavior or else punishing bad behavior. Others conclude that God is withholding His blessings due to some ethical failure on the part of the one seeking. Some even go as far to say that God is actually cursing certain people in His wrath over evil deeds done. Yet, thankfully, none of these things are true. In reality, God would give His love, His goodness, His blessings to anyone who would believe Him. God is never the source of difficulty or withholding. Instead the lack that we experience is either due to ignorance or wrong teaching. Ignorance from not knowing God’s promises or how to access them by believing and wrong teaching by all of these false ideas that have been promoted as truth. To take it step further, people must learn that spiritual truth and reality is absolutely not based on what things look like in the senses realm; the realm ruled by the five senses. Spiritual truth happens in spite of the senses registering. “We walk by faith and not by sight.” Remember the senses world and everything in it is ruled by the one that gained authority over the world. These spiritual marplots work in a tightly organized fashion to make things appear to be only one way when God promises another way. Take for example sickness and disease. A certain disease may be deemed incurable by the world yet God’s promise is that He will heal you. In order to actually believe and receive His healing you would have to successfully manage your expectations. If you allow the senses realm, which we have all been heavily schooled by, to hold sway over the promise, you will conclude that the healing you so desperately desire is not going to happen for you. The same principle carries out in everything you have ever wanted and needed. God does not set the limit, you do by the strength and source of your expectation. What you expect and continue to expect over and over and over again will come to pass. Similarly, the source of your expectation, the senses realm or the spiritual realm, will determine how far you can go. Manage your expectations.

Expectations are a function of your thoughts. Simply stated, what is it that you are expecting to happen? Are your thoughts happy and positive in anticipation of some good thing happening or are they dark and futile in expectation of nothing happening? You know the answer by how you are feeling about what it is you need to get. Anytime we feel frustrated and discouraged about getting something we really need clearly points to us allowing our thoughts to move in the wrong direction. There is no condemnation in this as we all fall prey to the senses deception and maneuverings at times. However, in the midst of our futility and exasperation we still have a choice. We still decide what it is we are going to think. At this point it is our duty to change our minds. We need to honestly recognize and acknowledge that our thinking has moved in the wrong direction and move it back in the right direction. It does not take discipline to do this. It takes only a decision on our part. We decide that the promise of God we are believing, i.e. “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in Christ Jesus” is true no matter what it looks like or how much time has transpired with our need not getting met. We refuse to let ourselves become unhappy and despondent and choose to look forward to how blessed we will be when that need is met. Dwelling on the darkness won’t bring forth the light as the great man once remarked. We continue this process for as long as we need to until God’s promise is fulfilled in our lives. Keep talking to God about it and keep seeking His help and insight in getting what you need. The contest, the fight will always be between what God says is true versus what sense and reason says is true. The reason of the world is the facts, but the reason of the spiritual world is truth. Manage your expectations.

Though it may not be entirely apparent to you thus far, you can have your needs met abundantly. You can live above the negativity, the defeat, the so-called scarcity of the world. You can experience the fulfillment of your heart’s desires. But doing so means you are going to have to fight at times, not with God of course, but with what things seem like versus what God says is true. This is the spiritual competition and you are in it whether you like it or not. We have all experienced difficulty in getting our needs met at times, especially with those things we need the most, but God is faithful to do what He said He would do in every instance and at all times. Persist in your expectation for good and keep changing your thoughts when you need to and prove it to yourself. God is faithful. Manage your expectations.

Just some good thoughts…

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Barking Up the Wrong Tree…


00600640_1cfab8e5705ade4c407fcd6b966006c0_arc614x376_w735_us1One thing we all have in common as human beings is the desire to find things that make us happy. If you think about, we are all on a quest for happiness. And, far too many people seem to be unable to find it. It is probably the most written about subject in the whole world. Some folks think happiness exists as a direct result of their financial means. Others claim it is the direct result of extreme poverty and stripping yourself from all the entanglements of the world. Some say it is found in nature, while others want to experience it in the city. No matter where you find it, one thing we all agree on is our need to have it. So, when it comes to happiness, are you barking up the wrong tree?

The world we live in today or maybe those things behind the world seem to be well aware of our heartfelt desire to find happiness. As such, the world feeds us endless ideas about where and how we might get that happiness. Television shows promote a world where flawless beauty can be manufactured and purchased in order to “create” the perfect type. And once the perfect type is obtained it may be used to build incredible wealth through product offerings and appearances promising the same ability to obtain perfection. The stars live a dream life in dreamy locations complete with full time make up artists and staff that exist only to serve the needs of the exalted ones. They fly on private jets to exotic locations on a whim with unlimited resources that never run dry. And while these programs do provide a level of entertainment, they also paint a false portrayal of happiness. Like movie stars, it is a world of make believe. It sends a faulty message that promises something it does not actually provide. That is not to say that everyone in these situations is wrong or evil, but rather that the message portrayed to the world (by the world) is not true. True happiness is not found through fame and fortune, though the messages seek to convince us otherwise. What the world offers will always be found a counterfeit. It is a surface expectation that produces only a superficial result. It is barking up the wrong tree.

Social media feeds us an endless array of images designed to make us seek the wrong things. Money, or the love of it, rules the world. We define success primarily by the amount of money and subsequent influence an individual has been able to obtain. We conclude rich people have “made it.” We think that money can solve any problem. We say, he who has the gold makes the rules! But, sadly, money alone is never the answer. The answer is being able to get our needs met. We do actually need money and I’m guessing that we likely need more money than we might actually have. Having enough money and having the discretion to make choices or engage in certain activities is vitally important to our happiness. No choice is not happy. Scraping along in the world unable to get the things we want is not happiness. Spending our time doing things we loathe in order to get money is not happiness. Having every need that comes up becoming a catastrophe due to not having enough money is not happiness. Thus, we actually do need money and maybe more than we think. But, money alone will at some point cause us to fall short of our real happiness. Seeking to be rich is always barking up the wrong tree.

Happiness is not something to be obtained, it is something to be enjoyed in our hearts. The perfect partner will not be able to make you happy unless you are already happy yourself. The perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect circumstances, the perfect relationship all work only to produce a temporary happiness because they do not contain the actual essence of happiness. Happiness is always the result of having your needs met and as your needs change so will your requirements for happiness. Whenever you rely on another person or obtaining certain things in order to find happiness, you will sooner or later come up short. You work so hard to obtain the perfect house and then what? Once you get what you so ardently desired, then what? Happiness, enduring happiness has to be much deeper than that. Life has to be more than acquiring things and gathering up the most toys before you die. The pursuit of happiness by trying to get stuff is barking up the wrong tree.

God as the creator of life has built into all of us a desire to find out about Him. Whether we be simply curious or spiritually starving, all of us have a desire to know Him. In our hearts, we instinctively know there is more to this life than we may have imagined. We seek a universal goodness that guided our hearts when we were children. We dream of a life, an existence, that is totally secure and taken care of and is lacking nothing. We long for the carefree days of our youth when we were truly happy. We want the liberty and the freedom to do as we please. We want life where we do not have to be afraid and can be sure we will be safe and protected no matter what. In fact, many folks seek wealth in order to experience this reality only to find out it doesn’t work. We as a people have never connected the dots that He (God) is our happiness. We have been looking for love in all the wrong places. We have foolishly tried to provide for ourselves what only He could provide for us. We worry and fret and seek and strive to find safety and peace and rest. We have never considered that we are trying to find Him in material things or in money or in things. Even our relationships are centered in Him and without Him cannot be fulfilled. He is all that we could ever need and He is the solution to every thing that has ever gone wrong, the answer to every question. We miss Him because the world has convinced us otherwise and our experience of life has confirmed it. But, what if we are wrong? What if we have barked up the wrong trees long enough that we know something is missing? What if our system of trial and error has exhausted us and we have sought yet not been able to find? What if our happiness and blessedness in this life comes from Him and from Him alone? God as our Father wants to teach us and help us and guide us. He wants us to be happy with a happiness that is not dependent upon circumstances or favorable conditions. He wants to be our all in all in every conceivable way. To know Him is to love Him and He is the first place for which to expend our efforts. He is the only tree.

Just some good thoughts…

Stop the Bleeding…


First aid training

As you are trekking along in your experience of life, have you ever gotten to the place where it feels like everything is going wrong? Try as you might, things just seem to keep moving from bad to worse. Bad news follows bad news and you’re desperate to stop the flow of wrong things; indeed to stop the bleeding. When you are in this fateful space it can seem like there is nothing you can do except to sit back and try to survive the ride. You wonder what you could have done to prevent this from happening to you. You comb through the decisions you have made trying your best to uncover your secret mistakes, your secret sins that led to your dilemma. You begin to question how God could have allowed this to happen to you. You need some answers and you need them now. The things that are happening to you are common to man but God will, with the temptation, always make a way to escape that you may be able to bear it. You can stop the bleeding if you are willing to change your mind!

The circumstances of life are no guarantee for the truth. However, the circumstances you find yourself in do provide clues concerning what has been going on in your head. Those things that affect you negatively came to life through the things you have been considering in your heart. It isn’t your destiny, as some foolishly proclaim nor is it God’s will for your life. Instead it is error that has, unbeknownst to you, been allowed to have access to you in your mind. What you think about day by day eventually filters down into your heart, from where it forms the circumstances of your life. Wrong thoughts produce wrong results. Thinking left unchecked and unchallenged leads to false ideas and concepts lodging themselves into your thinking and eventually your heart. However benign it appears to have fear based thinking as your primary way to think, the result will always reveal itself in the manifestation of your life. The outward reveals the inward no matter how unfair we feel it to be. When bad things happen to us, as they happen to all people, we are not victims of an unfair balance or an unjust scale. Instead we find ourselves victimized by powers working outside of our awareness and knowledge. God said, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” It is what you are ignorant of that hurts you. Many people today deny the existence of evil and discount it as a construct from the mind of man. Yet those same people suffer at the hands of it, unable to discern it much less fight against it.

When the sh*t is hitting the fan, as the saying goes, there’s no time to reflect back on what may have caused it as the urgency of the situation requires an immediate change of mind. You fight back against evil, the only true cause of your problems, by changing what it is you are feeding on and subsequently thinking about. What have you been feeding your mind? What have you been listening to, considering and incubating in your mind? Your mind and heart go where you go and not the other way around. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, but rather what you have been doing with your mind. When things go south, folks are so quick to evaluate themselves and blame themselves because of some decision they made, some error, some temptation that overcame them. When the more likely culprit is the thoughts they have been holding onto in their minds. None of us are perfect and if making mistakes represents the scale, some doing more and some doing less, then all of us would live amidst perpetual calamity. Yet, not everyone suffers calamity while making some of the same mistakes you have made. You are going to make blunders in this life and you will be deceived at times. But, when you become aware of it, you must immediately take steps to move your mind in a different direction. Just as the professional athlete learns to quickly let the former bad play go, you must learn to let your bad plays go as well. Otherwise the accuser, that led you into the error to begin with, will find a way for the mistake to live on in your mind robbing you of not only the bad day today but all your future days as well.

When you find yourself besieged by negative circumstances, it is not because there is something inherently wrong with you, though you will be tempted to consider it. It is because something is always after you and I whether we like it or not. We live amidst a spiritual competition that takes place in our minds. One side seeks to envelope us in darkness while the other side seeks to flood us with light. One side wants our lives to be filled with love and peace while the other side engenders chaos and confusion. You do not have to guess which side is at work. The circumstances will reveal it. When things are going from bad to worse it is an indicator, a clear indicator, that something is amiss in your thinking patterns. You are holding onto and embracing things that are not true. You have error in your heart. And the only way to get that error out of your heart is to change the thoughts you have been thinking. You have to learn things are true from a source that is true. You cannot rely on people or the world or the experts or your heartfelt Google search, you have got to come back to God’s Word. You have got to seek peace from the Author of peace. You have to humble yourself to the reality that things have not been going well for you and that there is a reason why, though you cannot see it yet. You don’t have to get all religious or pure or anything else that makes you the central subject. Instead you must be willing to seek something higher than yourself. God didn’t make the negative circumstances to humble you, but He will work in those circumstances to help you find a way to prevail. Whatever is happening to you God already saw coming and as such has already made a way for you to escape. Don’t try to be so smart. Instead seek outside of yourself for the answers you need. Darkness is always an illusion and is always based on a lie. Shatter the illusion by finding out the truth.

You don’t have to live very long before you experience this sort of thing happening to you. You are not an anomaly. You are not weird or strange or reserved for bad things in your life. Instead you are simply unaware and need to learn. In the words of James Allen, “Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this, in the ocean of life the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep: wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!”

Do you want to stop the bleeding in your life? Take control of your thoughts…

Just some good thoughts…

Hacked!


hackedLast week I had the rather unpleasant experience of getting hacked. Basically, someone reached out to me on Instagram asking for support for their upcoming clothing line and I made the fateful mistake of responding to them. I didn’t click on any links or provide my cell number for a text as requested, yet still they got in. Once they got in, they changed my password, changed the contact cell phone number and email and added two factor authentication which made it almost impossible to recover my own account. They followed hundreds of new people and badgered all of my friends with the exact same scheme, leaving folks thinking they were talking with me. The experience was distracting and concerning to say the least. Besides learning that Instagram literally has no actual customer support, I understood how difficult it is to extricate yourself from deception once it gets its grip on you. How it got to you doesn’t matter. When it got to you doesn’t matter. What matters is how you can recover and get your mind (and account) back. Have your thought processes been hacked by a deception?

In life, we all have a mind and a heart and we are responsible to guard it from intruders. Intruders get in when we fail to control our thinking and as such allow deceptions access to our minds. Just as my downfall was engaging in a conversation with the hackers, your downfall comes from consideration of things that are not true. When Eve was deceived in the beginning, it wasn’t the existence of evil that defeated her, it was her consideration of the things evil said to her. (It was a heck of a lot bigger than eating a silly apple, but I digress). Eve’s downfall and eventually Adam’s downfall came as a result of considering and trying to figure out what the enemy of mankind was proposing. The same holds true today. The way that evil gets inside our minds and hacks us is by our consideration of what is being presented to us. Being human we think we can figure it out and as such give it space in our minds. We mull it over. We worry about it. We give it audience and the next thing you know we are all screwed up inside and confused. Have you ever noticed that no matter how much worry you give a thing you can never quite get to a solution? You analyze, you evaluate, you process it and it just leads to more and more distress. It is a trick and a trap from which eventually it will be hard to escape. The solution to fear producing thoughts is to refuse their entrance. Don’t scratch that itch! Do not try to take it on with your finite human knowledge. Instead you have to replace those thoughts with things that are true. God’s Word is true and has the remedy to everything that has ever bothered you or imprisoned you. You can avoid being mentally hacked by knowing what is true.

All of us at one time or another have been hacked in our minds and hearts. We have lived in fear and doubt and uncertainty for so long that we think it is a normal way to live. We dismiss it as being part of the human condition. We do all sorts of shenanigans to assuage our fears such as trying to be a good person or do good works or whatever it is we can think of that might help offset the bad things that are surely coming our way. It never dawned on us that someone or something has been lying to us. Our starting premise has been wrong. We have been communicating with a hacker. Fear is man’s only enemy. Fear has ruined more people’s lives than all the other things combined. It is our fears that allow our enemy access to us and it is our fear that brings bad things to pass in our lives. Fear is a believing expectation for something negative to happen and believing equals receiving. The things we so desperately fear end up coming into fruition in our lives. And then we exclaim, “I knew it” when in reality we helped bring it to pass. There is a reason the number one admonition in the Bible is fear not! Fear is a hacker attempting to gain access to your life and then infect the lives of others also. You get your mental account and your heart back by gaining control of your thinking.

So, what can you do once you realize you’ve been hacked? Unlike Instagram, you have access to something greater than any problem that has ever come your way. The first step involves terminating communications with the hacker. Stop giving those lies access to your mind. Stop trying to figure it all out. The basis of your troubles are spiritual and no amount of reasoning will make that clear. Instead steer your heart towards something that is true. Make the decision to stop trying to figure out your troubles and hand them over to God who is especially adept at problem solving. Just give them to Him and don’t take them back. Rehearsing your troubles hasn’t been successful thus far, has it? Quit beating that dead horse and try something different. Cast all your care upon Him for He careth for you! In other words, let it go. Pray about it and then let it go. Just the act of refusal sets on course the answers you need in order to prevail. God wants to solve every problem that has ever come your way and He has the power and ability to do so. Find someone that can teach you the truth. Don’t go to the world as it’s the world that screwed you up in the first place. Don’t rely on religion or philosophy or science. Rely instead on the truth of God’s Word which is the only thing that sets you free. God sent His Word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions. Learn to shut down the hackers and get your heart and mind back!

Have you been having a tough time lately and wondering what is the point? Do you find yourself distracted with cares? Have things become increasingly difficult for you? Does happiness and peace of mind seem to evade you? If so, you have probably been hacked. But, not to worry. With God there are always solutions and answers greater than the skill and cunning of any hacker. You can get your heart and mind back if you will only go about it the way God says to do it. Humble yourself and get your needs met. I finally was able to recover my account using the deeply hidden and obscured video selfie method which worked after 9 tries. Thankfully God makes it a lot easier than that.

Just some good thoughts…

Your Ultimate Freedom…


freedomMany years ago when some folks approached me about having a relationship with God, I bristled at the thought of living a religious life where my every action was studied and judged. I still feel that way today. It seemed like the advertised life with God was mostly centered on requirements and things I had to give up. Several years after those early offerings, a man invited me to a Christian fellowship promising me that life with God wasn’t so much about what I did, but rather what God had done for me in Christ. He and the ensuing fellowships I attended painted a very different picture. They taught me that God was not only always for me and loved me, but that He had given the life of His son to forever solve the sin issue in my life and the lives of all people. The Word they taught me from the Bible was abundantly clear in outlining the details of how God’s perfect son who never sinned was crucified for me thereby providing me with the ultimate freedom; freedom from sin and a never ending sin-free life with my Heavenly Father. What a revelation to my soul! What a stark contrast. What a tremendous opportunity I had to live a joyful life with God. Wouldn’t you like to experience that ultimate freedom? I know you would.

I have to admit that the devil has done a bang up job of portraying God to be someone He is not. When people think of God, instead of having feelings of love and thankfulness, they typically think of themselves and where their lives do not line up with the rules; the commandments. Their unlearned minds and hearts begin to accuse them of the many years they lived in sin and the many things they did wrong in their lives. They picture God as a judge doling out punishments and sentences based on how they behaved. They wrongly conclude that in order to access God’s benefits and His blessings they must somehow clean up their lives and “get right” with Him. In this they have been fed a lie from the author of lies. The enemy of mankind knows that on their own and of their own devices, mankind can never be made right based on the works they do. Ever since sin entered the world with its associated misery, human beings have been born with a sin nature with sin preexisting in their blood lines. There is no amount of discipline and effort and “living right” a person can do to remedy this situation. All of your good works avail nothing as the sin nature is in your blood. Only God could solve this dilemma by sending His son with perfect blood, sinless and always obedient, as a substitute for sin by surrendering his life for you and me at the cross. The perfect for the imperfect. The sinless for the sinner. The righteous for the unrighteous. Your freedom doesn’t come from anything you do, but rather what God did for you in Christ.

Can you begin to perceive what God has already done for you and me? God knew that you and I would never get it right on our own and made a way for us to finally be free from the claims of sin. And as obvious as this is in God’s Word, the world remains largely unaware of this great reality. If you listen to the proponents of religion, you will find their advice always centered in what you must do and not do in order to have access to God. And while such advice seems religious, it actually drives you further and further away from God. Instead of trusting God to meet your needs, your focus turns inward clearly outlining how you are not worthy of His love and care. The harder you work to please God and do things that are right in His sight, the more you fail (as you necessarily must) leading to an endless cycle of things you have to do and even more things you have to give up. No-one wants to live that way. No-one! And the ultimate irony is that attempting to do so does not improve your relationship with God at all. We think that God is somehow not familiar with our condition. We think He somehow cannot understand the very people that he formed, made and created and remains repulsed by our sinful behavior. Further, we surmise that all kinds of things are sin when they aren’t sin at all. In this our lives are stifled and restricted and robbed of blessings and joy. We cannot even live one day without some reminder of our past mistakes and our every foible and absurdity. This is not freedom, it is slavery and bondage.

The reality of what God did for us in Christ is almost unbelievable. Through the life of His son God forever freed us from the claims of sin. Once you confess Jesus as Lord in your life and believe that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10), God creates a new creation in you (spirit) and from that moment forward you are forever righteous in His sight. No matter what you do with your remaining life His seed remains in you and because of this, you cannot sin in His sight. God made you righteous by the substitute of His son. I’ll say it again. God made you righteous in His sight and there is literally nothing you can do to add to it or subtract from it. He set you and me free! He did it! And, He did it because we could not do it on our own. He forever solved the sin problem in our lives. Can’t you see it or begin to comprehend it? We are forever free from the claims of sin. Our focus no longer needs to be centered on ourselves, but rather on what God did for us in Christ. We live by the faith of another man! Now, God bless you, you can live your life without always looking over your shoulder and worrying about the consequences of your sin nature. You do not owe the adversary anything and he no longer can claim control over your life. And now, maybe for the first time in your life, you can breathe the free air of freedom. Now you can live and move and prevail. Now you can get your prayers answered. Now you no longer have to skulk around fearful of your missteps. You have been set free and you didn’t have a blessed thing to do with it. God did it for you (and me) so that we could finally live. Imagine a life where sin no longer exists. Imagine freedom to do as you dang fool please. Being set free from sin doesn’t make you sin more, instead it sets you free from the claims and bondage of sin so that you can actually live. God has given you the ultimate freedom! What are you going to do with it?

If there is anything God wants you to know in this life it is that God has given you the promise of a new life in the life of His son. God solved your problem for you because you could not do it for yourself. God wants you to be free. He desires that you turn your focus from yourself and your foolishness to Him and what He did for you. He wants to help you and give you the things you need and want. He wants your heart to be at rest in what He did for you. He wants your love and adoration, not because of your fear and sin, but because you are free to express it in every conceivable way. Don’t you want to experience the freedom that God has provided for you? I know you do. God has given you the ultimate freedom.

Just some good thoughts…

The Real Deal


WorldReligions-164107922-c72cce704d4d4521962046df4fa8ce3fI think all people have that little inkling inside that softly urges them towards finding out about spiritual realities. We have all sort of heard of God and maybe have some questions about who He is and why things happen the way they do. Unfortunately, when you begin your quest, you realize that there are so many choices out there to consider; all of them claiming to have a corner on the truth. So, you try this one and check that one. You go to your friend’s church, your parent’s church; try an online thing and maybe do some additional reading. The more you search the more you realize that each group claims to be right and has some shade to throw on the other groups. Assuming you are sincere in your quest, how would you know? How can you be sure you are making a good choice and not something that leads you down the road of heretical tyranny? Lord knows we have all heard of cults that start good then end dreadfully bad. Of course we have the Bible which seems like the logical place to start, but other folks have their own bibles as well, some as reported additions, others as completely separate works. Again, how could you possibly know? Well, I think there is one thing that all the counterfeits have in common and one thing that points you to the truth. The real deal is the truth and there is only one truth.

If you think about it, this whole notion that there are many ways to get to Ohio and it doesn’t matter which way you go as long as you get to Ohio, is fraught with flaws and errors. In other words, if your goal is to go to heaven and live forever, does it really matter which way you go as long as you get there? Well, it seems like the answer would be no if you ended up there anyway. But, would you end up there? Is it not possible that you are believing a bunch of stuff and doing a bunch of stuff to arrive at destination heaven that have nothing at all to do with getting to heaven? What if you find yourself caught up on some treadmill of required works to please God that have nothing to do with pleasing God? Imagine devoting your life and heart to some way of being only to find out that it wasn’t necessary at all? You know what I mean. Some of you aren’t eating meat. Some of you refuse to eat foods considered unclean in the Old Testament. Some of you abstain from alcohol. Some of you think sex is reserved for procreation and should be avoided whenever possible. Some of you believe you cannot expose certain parts of your body and on and on and on. The list; the requirements are endless. How can you possibly know? How can you be sure you are on the right track? How can you be sure what you believe is the real deal?

Delving a little deeper, it seems as if there is an absolute referred to as the truth, that there could only be one truth. The truth is the truth and it cannot contradict itself. There is one truth and accordingly the rest cannot be the truth and must be error. If you have the truth, why would you need additional truths or alternate truths? 3 x 5 equals 15 no matter how you want to slice it. Life would turn into chaos if the truth had many other faces and those facades did not agree with one another. It is not limited or ignorant to believe there is one way to go. There is one God and one truth and one correct way to believe. This false notion that there are many different ways to arrive at the same place has confused mankind for centuries. I have found there is one surefire method to help you determine if what you are believing is based on the truth or on error. There is one acid test you may apply in every situation. That test either points you to God the Creator of the heavens and the earth or it points you back to yourself. All counterfeit truth points you to yourself and what you do right and what you do wrong. The subject of religion is not God, it is you. The focus is always on what man does; what man says; what man thinks and not what God does, says or thinks. The real deal is God and the counterfeit deal is man’s ideas.

Whenever and wherever you find yourself in a group or an ideology or a church where the focus is you and what you do or don’t do, that place will always be wrong. The focus of Christianity will always, always be what God does (and did) and not on what man does (or did). The truth focuses on our Savior, Jesus Christ and what he did for us. Religion focuses on where you are not right with God; works you must do to make yourself right with God and whatever else they can come up with to keep you in perpetual bondage and condemnation. Look, I aint mad at your church and I aint coming at your belief system. What I’m opposed to are these options and ideas that aren’t helping you or leading you to anything good. The undeniable acid test is the subject of focus. What is the subject of focus? You know yourself well enough and I know myself well enough to be confident of one thing. If my ability to get to heaven, to know the truth, to experience goodness and blessings is dependent upon me, then I am in serious trouble (and so are you). You cannot get there on your own no matter what you do or don’t do. The more you focus on yourself, the more imperfection you will find. You cannot clean yourself up no matter how much discipline and  effort you supply. Only the Savior can clean you up and he did it for you before you were even born! The real deal is what God did for us, not what we do for God.

Look, ask yourself the question. That group you fellowship with, those folks you hang out with, that leader you have been faithfully following, do they lead your focus towards God and what He does and will do or do they lead your focus back to yourself and whatever it is that is wrong with you. Are you the subject? Are you the focus? Is there so much more you must do in order to finally please God? If so the chances are you are on the wrong track. People mean well, God bless them, but sometimes what they say and promote as true isn’t true at all. You cannot earn God’s goodness and you cannot earn your way to heaven no matter how hard you try. All of God’s goodness and blessings come to you when you believe what He did for you and not by what you must do for Him. The Savior (our Savior) died for you so you would not have to live that way any longer. Turn your focus away from yourself and your inadequacies and back to God and His perfection. There is only one way to go and that way leads to God and God alone. God is the real deal…

Just some good thoughts…

The Secret to a Lasting Relationship…


kids-sharing-secret2A short time ago, I had the honor to officiate the wedding of my dear niece. As my manner is, I like to provide the couple with some marriage advice individually and together. I shared with them the real secret to a lasting relationship and surprisingly it wasn’t only communication. I called it a secret because it is not the way most couples function. Do you want to know the secret? Read on.

If you think about it, people do not remain the same person they were as they grow and progress through their life. We all have both the privilege and the opportunity to make changes and if needed, modify our behavior. Similarly our interests and our desires also change. What appeals or holds first place to a twenty year old is vastly different than what appeals to a fifty year old. When people get married, their task is to unify two separate people towards one common purpose. Being married does not mean forsaking who you are as a person in order to please the other person. Instead the couple has to find a way to continue to be themselves and also function as a team. How absurd the idea of marriage would be if the goal was to turn into something or someone you are not. Doing so or attempting to do so leads to nothing but perpetual resentment on the part of the one being asked to be someone they are not. In marriage or any serious relationship the people involved have to be able to be themselves. In the world you may be required to play a role, but at home there has to be freedom and tons of acceptance. How many relationships fail because one or the other is trying to make their partner into something they are not? This, of course doesn’t mean there isn’t a responsibility to rid oneself of obnoxious behaviors or to modify and adjust as required. Modifying and adjusting are part of the essence of life. Usually that thing that bothers you about your partner, bothers them as well. Yet, similar to how God works with us, you don’t scold and criticize away bad behaviors. Instead you endeavor to make an appeal to that good part of the person. Being critical and demeaning may make you feel better in the moments of anger, but in the end it simply gives birth to bitterness. But most importantly and in concert with the “secret,” you have to allow your partner the freedom to change. Each day is a new day and offers a fresh start in order to get it right. But, your partner doesn’t have a chance to get it right if you are still stuck back on something from yesterday. Allow them to change. Allow them to modify. Allow them to adjust.

The secret to a lasting relationship is found when you learn to live each day as a new day. Relationships, marriages turn sour because one or the other or both are dragging around their perpetual, negative memories of the past. Living in this way just fixes your partner to one moment in time doomed to the consequences forever. Your partner may have transformed lightyears from the person you initially met and fell in love with, but you won’t ever be able to see and truly appreciate that transformation because you aren’t seeing them for who they are, but rather for who they were. Your image of your partner, your spouse is distorted and predetermined leaving you with nothing but the dredges of the past you are carrying about with you. Whenever I see couples (and I include myself in this observation) carrying on a sort of low level bickering back and forth, I know there are so many unsaid and unresolved issues from the former days still affecting today. And I always think, what a shame! How sad that you cannot even hear each other because of that backlog of, “How you always are and what you always say!” So sad. You remember when you first met? You didn’t have all those negative associations built up and you actually saw and heard your partner. All of us can change and sometimes in dramatic fashion. All of us can learn a new, better way to be. All of us can finally decide to stop doing the stuff that causes ourselves and others pain and blaze a new trail. All people need is the freedom to do it. Give your partner, your spouse, your lover the freedom to change. Let them be someone else instead of the image you have decided they are and forever will be. They are growing and learning just like you are. Above all, learn to accept them; their quirks; their oddities; their foolishness. Accept it. Quit wishing they would be someone else and love them for who they are. You may find as you focus on their goodness that there is a lot there for you to love. If you know they have a weak spot, why not cover it? Maybe they have strange views about things, well God bless them, so do you.

The secret to a lasting relationship and even life itself is to live each day as a new day. Don’t try to live in your future and for goodness sakes, let go of the past. Live in the moment, in the day, and look at things with fresh eyes. Do your best to quit reading into current situations with a bunch of old data from the past. It’s old and no longer useful. Look at your partner with clear eyes and a clear heart. Just because their responses to certain situations are familiar doesn’t mean they will always be the same. Let them grow and change just like you have grown and changed. You have finally figured a few things out and maybe they have also. That person you are with that knows exactly how to drive you nuts likely loves you more than anyone else does and for that they deserve a fresh start; a thousand fresh starts. Communication is vital, but pointless if you are communicating from the vantage point of the ghosts of the past. Live each day as a new day. It is the secret to a lasting relationship.

Just some good thoughts…

Open Wide Your Heart…


heart openUs human beings have this uncanny approach to life whereby we tend to acclimatize ourselves to our surroundings and habituate a large portion of our existence. When we were young, everything was new and exciting. There was a whole world out there to explore and we looked forward with excited anticipation to where we might find our place in the world. Then life happened and we stopped looking. We traded in our thirst for adventure for the familiar and the well known. As the years passed, unbeknownst to us, we began to put limits on our options and settled in for the mundane. We became slaves to our habits and developed a fixed mindset; a mindset that has little space for the unfamiliar, leaving us with a little too much familiar. The days became longer and longer and our new activities became less and less. Our quest for learning slowed to a standstill and much less our capacity for spontaneity. We just go too old and too afraid of the unknown. In this we closed our hearts off to life and suffered as a result of it. Life was never meant to be endured or survived, but rather a place for endless learning and new adventures. The reason we lost track of that life is because we let our hearts get hard, closed off from the true experience of living. Life never changed, we did. Open wide your hearts!

Living life absent the truth of God’s Word subjects our hearts to a host of wrong ideas, fears and hurts. In defense, or in an attempt at defense or self preservation, we learned to close off our hearts. The world can be a scary place and an open heart feels vulnerable and subject to pain. That same world taught us to harden our hearts, to lessen risk wherever possible and to play it safe. We were told to content ourselves with the mediocre and be thankful simply to be alive as opposed to really living. We thought we were getting wiser, but in actuality were being talked out of life. One by one our happinesses and enjoyments were curtailed in favor of the responsible existence. The messages, “watch out now” “be careful” and “be safe” became our new mantra. Young folks rarely make such statements as the world has not yet convinced them of the danger in everything. And while being reckless has its own painful lessons, adhering to nothingness is even worse. How do you get to the place where you go to work for someone else’s dream, exert your energy for that dream, then come home, go to bed and wake up to do it all over again? You can’t do anything fun on a weeknight because it is a weeknight. God forbid you go to work a little sleepy. Any fun that there is, is reserved for a few hours on the weekend. There’s not a category of life that hasn’t been diminished by some expert or had its dangers extolled and repeated. In this people cease to live and end up enduring the hours of their remaining life. 

The culprit most famous for closing hearts is always fear. Fear closes off all the outlets until all that is left is you stuck inside alone. One by one, fear takes something from you until you have nothing left. Fear steals your fun, your thirst for life, your love of learning, your energy, your time, your enthusiasm and your health. Fear always limits your options. Fear makes you choose three things instead of a hundred things. Fear sets your prosperity limits and your means to enjoy your life. Fear makes you poor both metaphorically and literally. Fear is behind the boredom you endure because it talked you into what you can and cannot do, always emphasizing what you cannot do! In a life so full and rich, with so much infinite variety of experience, there is always, always so much more. You don’t see it nor can you experience it because of your fear. Open wide your heart by getting rid of fear. 

The only way to life is to seek out the Author of Life. Don’t waste your time with religion or any practice that always aims at you and your imperfections. Instead seek Him who is perfect. Seek the very source of life and experience. And in order to find Him, though He be not very far from any one of us, you have to open your heart. You have to be willing to learn something new. You have to be just as willing to unlearn that great edifice of error that has been built into your mind. You have to rid yourself of fear with all that you are. You have to learn a new and a living way. Every one of your lost pleasures and your lost treasures can be found in Him. He knows the person you really are and all that He put into your heart to do. You have a purpose and your life has meaning, deep rich, enduring meaning. There is vastly more life to live than you have days left to live. You just have not yet been able to see it. What questions have long plagued your heart? What things do you so desperately need? What needs His restoration and healing power? Riches and honor are in His left hand and in His right hand, pleasures forevermore. Open wide your heart. 

The path to the life you wish to live runs through your heart. Open it back up again and let it heal. Give out that love and kindness you have inside and don’t reserve it only for the little ones. Be a wave of warmth and goodness to the people you meet and let your light shine. Be lavish in your praise and hearty in your approbation. (Thanks Dale Carnegie). Be the goodness you want to see in the world. Be the person, hurting people need the most and be it with your whole heart. All that you could have ever wished for in your life will come through your open heart. Open wide your heart…

Just some good thoughts. 

Google Search…


google 2There are few things more helpful today than the ability to do a Google search. You can search for almost anything and 99% of the time you will find the answers that you need. Whether it be, “How to remove superglue from your counters?” to “Why isn’t the air conditioner working?” Google has the answers that you need. Google seems to encompass just about every question that you ask. The only place where Google seems to break down is when you find yourself in need of spiritual answers. Spiritual information either isn’t accurate according to God’s Word or else it’s mixed in with opinions, religious beliefs and a whole menagerie of guesswork which doesn’t really do the trick. For those times in your life when you really need an answer, you can do better than a Google search. You can go directly to your Creator. He is always available, knows the answer and is right 100% of the time.

One of my favorite times of the day occurs when I get up in the morning, brew up some coffee and sit down to write my, “Morning Pages” with my Heavenly Papa. Morning Pages, Julia Cameron’s brainchild, is taking time in the morning to record your thoughts and impressions about whatever is on your mind. It doesn’t have to be super meaningful or insightful, but rather an opportunity for you to clear things up in your head or at minimum identify your problems and seek solutions for them. For me, in my adapted version of the same, it is an opportunity to talk things over with my Father. It is a time for me to get clear about what is going on in my life. Often it presents me with a chance to unpack things things that have been stacking up and causing me to feel confused. Sometimes when I write there can be some complaining. Other times, I ask heartfelt questions and seek solutions and desperately needed answers. Similar to the psalmists, no matter where I start or how I start, before long the answers to my questions become more clear; I receive illumination and insights into which I formerly had no insight whatsoever. God sort of clues me in, in His quiet, perfect, very personal way. He often reminds me of something His Word says which always applies perfectly to my situation. Even my complaining and bitching is generally met with some further understanding about myself and when the problem is “indeed me oh Lord” coupled with a need for me to change my mind. Morning Pages with God is the ultimate Google search for spiritual answers to my spiritual problems.

Recently I found myself in a very challenging situation which I neither had coming nor deserved. Unlike times when I was the culprit of my own poor choices, this time it wasn’t the case at all. As I pondered my dilemma, talking it over on the pages of my journal complete with a good amount of anger and feeling like a victim, I suddenly recalled a section of scripture from Ecclesiastes which briefly states, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, not the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. Immediately it dawned on me that at times in life we don’t get the result we should have gotten because there is an adversary who is ever at work behind the scenes trying to obstruct God’s blessings and favor in our lives. Otherwise people would always receive exactly what they deserved. As I pondered this further, I was reminded that I am in a spiritual competition and at times a target because of my love for God. And though I still didn’t appreciate what happened, I was comforted in knowing that God always turns those things intended for my harm to something much better for me. In that I found rest.

On another occasion, as I wrote feeling particularly frustrated about the effort I was putting in to get something with apparently very little result, God reminded me “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” In other words, you have to persevere at times to get the things you want and just because you cannot see it right now, doesn’t mean it is not going to happen. It is part of the great contest also with forces working to keep you from your dreams, if you give up in your mind and let them win. Another morning, I wrote about how things were gathering steam and seemingly coming at me from every angle. My knee hurt, my back hurt, there was pulsing inside my head, things weren’t making sense and I felt overwhelmed like my needs weren’t going to be met at all. And as I thought about where maybe I was offtrack or in the wrong space mentally, suddenly I recalled a section from the book of James where God said to count it all joy when you find yourself in many temptations because the testing of your faith (from the enemy) produces perseverance which in turn leads to maturity, being complete and ultimately not being in want for anything. Again, because God is faithful, I saw that at times you are going to be under the gun, but instead of looking inward to find your faults and failings, it is better to remind yourself of the struggle of which you are a part and hang tight looking for God’s deliverance. In fact, James goes on to say that if any of you lacks wisdom (knowing what to do) let Him ask God who gives generously to all without finding any fault. The moral of the story? Ask God the questions and allow Him to give you the answers. Sometimes your answers come quietly from within and at other times you will get them in other ways. God is not limited in His means for providing you with what you need. In fact, often when He answers you and you know it, He will remind you that you asked Him just so it is extra clear. (smile)

If you have lived life long enough, you already know that you have questions from which you have not yet gotten an answer. Google hasn’t helped you with these questions or maybe served to confuse you further. There are things deep inside you that no-one else knows about except you and God. God knows your every need from the smallest to the greatest. God has the answer to every question and He will not withhold it from you. Your job is simply to ask the question and then listen intently for the answer. When something breaks Google is your best friend, but the broken things in your heart and life are going to need something better. God is the something better. Far, far better. Just ask!

Just some good thoughts…

Enthusiastic Living!


enthusiasmLife requires energy to live it and your level of energy is connected directly to your thoughts. Children seem to have an almost unlimited amount of enthusiasm, but children also don’t waste too much time thinking about the wrong stuff. Adults do that. There is a competition that rages daily and that contest is for the allegiances of your mind. You spend or reserve your energy by the thoughts you are choosing to entertain. Positive thoughts, happy thoughts, hopeful thoughts, anticipating thoughts and indeed all “just some good thoughts” lead to the energy to do, which life is requiring. Negative thoughts, fearful thoughts, anxious thoughts of the future and anxious thoughts of the past serve only to deplete your energy culminating in you not having the energy you need to do you; to live your life successfully. Have you found yourself lately not having the energy or the enthusiasm that your life requires? Have you been running on empty, as the saying goes. Have you lost some or all of your enthusiasm for living? Does your life sometimes feel pointless? Well, not to worry my friends as there is always a solution if you are willing to hear it.

One of the things I enjoy best about my relationship with God is that He faithfully provides me with little insights and clues about how to live my life. He does not condemn me, nor does He judge me. Instead, He answers my questions and makes my cloudy spaces clear. Energy and enthusiastic living happens to be one of those private lessons. At one point in my life, I recognized that I just felt like I didn’t care about anything anymore. Nothing excited me and honestly it felt like I didn’t have anything to look forward to in my life. I had more resources than I had ever had before and also had all of the things you would expect to make up an excellent existence. But, I wasn’t blessed and I knew I needed some answers. Don’t get me wrong, the answers I needed didn’t show up overnight, like many things in our lives, as typically it has taken some time to bury us in our dilemmas. But, one thing was immediately clear to me. Something or someone was interfering with my day by day happiness and in doing so was robbing me of the blessings God wanted me to have. The first and usually most insidious blocker of happiness is fear. Fear sucks the life right out of you. Fear, which is almost always future based, paints unpleasant pictures of loss and defeat. Fear tells you that perhaps you will never get the thing you so desperately need. Fear proclaims that the pain you are experiencing will last forever and that you must resign yourself to some chronic, severely limiting condition. Fear threatens you and accuses you and just sort of sits there mocking your life, stealing from you and ultimately blocking your forward progress. If you have a profound lack of energy and enthusiasm for living, the odds are that you are harboring some fear in your life.  Oh trust me, it’s there. You simply have to take the time, be honest with yourself and recognize what it is that has you so afraid. Banishing and eliminating fear is step one! Fear, as crazy as it seems, is a choice you are making. You are giving it space, mind time (lots and lots of mind time) and you are refusing in some capacity to let it go. Trust me I have been there. But, I have to say this, nothing is going to change until you finally let that shit go. People live today chock full of anxiety trying all sorts of things to mitigate the feelings without ever getting to the bottom of it. Anxiety is fear also and it is blocking your enthusiasm for living.

Next on the learning train, you have to get back to living one day at a time. Deal with all of today’s assaults while it is still today. Take it on today. Don’t skip past it, move ahead, ignore it or let it go. If you think about it, you aren’t afraid and anxious about today. You are afraid of tomorrow and the things you cannot see yet. Failure to take it on today leads, just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, to deeper and deeper problems inside your head. Wrong thinking carves a groove in your thought processes and like any good rut, will drag you back in as soon as you endeavor to venture out. A general sense of malaise and depressed, tired thinking is the direct result of not taking on the things regarding your life that you needed to address. But, hey, who hasn’t been there? Your job, my job is get back to living in the day and only in that day. You cannot live in your future and you cannot live any longer in your past. One hasn’t arrived and the other is long since gone from earth, existing only in your memory. You can take on the requirements of today. You can go for a drive or go for a walk and get things straight. Take whatever time you need to get things straight. Think about whatever is bothering you and get it cleared up, resolved. It is an epidemic in good old America for people to let things go in favor of the next thing to distract us. Get things straight. If you find yourself unhappy about how you are acting or what you are choosing to do, make some adjustments in the day you are in. Save your long self improvement lists for another lifetime and master the day you are in. I get up and write my, “Morning Pages” every morning where God and I take time to get things straight. I unpack, He whispers clues. Enthusiasm follows those answers!

Finally, there is another little secret for enduring happiness and enthusiasm that you may have not considered. You have to choose to be enthusiastic in your mind. You have to treat other people with enthusiasm and a happy perspective. Think of those times in your life when you were so absolutely blessed and excited about living your life. It may have been circumstances that spurred it on, but even then you chose the enthusiasm. Can’t you see it? You chose the enthusiasm based on your perception of what was going on. In the same way, you can choose enthusiasm no matter what is going on. Once you have settled on your enthusiastic mindset, notice what little things come up to steal away your new decision. Pay attention to your mind’s reasons why you cannot be enthusiastic. There, right there is your fight. The opponent’s lies never center on today, but always on some pending future doom or difficulty to talk you out of today. People are defeated one day at a time as well. I hope you really, really think through what I am telling you. You can choose enthusiasm for living as you refute those things trying to take it away. And the best part, God is right there in your enthusiasm and right there rewarding your excited anticipation. Once you finally let the negatives go, not in naivety, but because they are usually future based and temporal, you walk right into the light where God has always wanted you to live your life. In that place, your enthusiasm will know no limits and all of your paths will be peace.

Things got you down in this life? Are you struggling to find your joy? Do you wish you were the man or the woman you used to be? If so, take the time to learn the lessons. Eliminate all fear. Live today and today only. It is your thinking, your mind where the arena of competition is waged. Win the fight, not by cursing the darkness, but by cutting it off instead. Get your brain over to the light and stay there. Refuse the illusions and decide what or who you are going to be. Enthusiastic and excited living is God’s will for your life. Prove it to yourself.

Just some good thoughts…