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…

When All Hope is Lost…


hope lostIf you have lived any significant portion of life, then you have likely experienced some things that shook you to your core. Negative things happen to all of us in varying proportions. We all get challenged, suffer loss and setbacks. We may find ourselves backed into a corner with no seeming solutions to our dilemmas. We get stuck in mental traps, prisons, things from which we feel we cannot escape. It is unfortunately the reality of living in a world ruled by evil. Just such a thing happened to my beloved co-worker today as she tragically took her own life in the face of what must have felt like insurmountable obstacles. Somehow in some way she must have concluded there was no other way to find peace. She must have become utterly and absolutely hopeless. What can we do when we feel that all hope is lost?

The world has been engineered to drive our minds and our thinking to draw conclusions that are not true. Each day messages are rehearsed into our ears regarding the futility of being able to overcome certain challenges. We are told our medical conditions are chronic and have no available cure. We hear much information containing cleverly veiled fears, that we go about almost expecting bad things to happen to us. When good stumbles upon us we exclaim, “Unbelievable!” Our expectations are challenged daily until we reduce those expectations to meager or less. In short, we have been fed a gigantic lie. In a world threatening no solutions, there is always a solution. There is a way to go that always works. There are answers for the weary traveler. There is healing and restoration and love. It’s not that those things cease to exist when we are in trouble, but rather we have lost sight of them, not believed them, become convinced in opposition to them. We don’t lose hope, it is stolen from us…

Where people have been woefully ignorant is in regard to spiritual verities. They have been ignorant of Satan’s devices. They fail to consider the depths to which evil will travel in order to steal and to kill and to destroy. They don’t know the truth that counters the darkness, much less God’s good will for their lives. They wrongly assume life is painted with one giant brush originating from the hand of God. They don’t understand there are two brushes. Absent God’s Word and subsequently God’s help, they try to take it all on, on their own. They could never quite perceive the real source of their difficulties and the author behind every woe that ever befell them. They suffered in silence, in abject misery and desolation, getting further convinced of something that was never true to begin with. This is the way of all people absent God and His solutions for our lives. There is no criticism because we have all dealt with darkness in one way or another. We have all felt the sting of death to a loved one, feelings of futility and despair, frustration, “no way out,” chronic problems both mental and physical, self-made prison holes and questions without answers. We have all gone astray and, like the prodigal son, needed to be received back with love and forgiveness. We are spiritual beings living in a human body subject to a world hell bent on defeating us. Yet, for all this, we do not lose hope.

Our only real, abiding, lasting, never changing solution is God. He is our every answer and our only answer. He sees all, knows all and is all-powerful. Without Him we cannot win and with Him we can only succeed. He and He alone can unravel the mess the adversary has made of our lives. God fills in all the spaces and makes our crooked places straight. He heals all of our infirmities and makes our blind eyes able to see. He works with us right where we are, never judging us or condemning us. His guidance is tender and kind and leaves us the better, never the worse. When life, more accurately the world, has overwhelmed us, perplexed us, led us astray, far astray, He is ever present with open arms and an open heart seeking us out to assist us. His answers are real answers, not sayings or wishes. His truths illuminate our souls and set us free. He tells us how our opponent is defeating us and shows us how to fight back. He rescues us, saves us, delivers us and how thankful I am for His love and care. How I wish that all the world knew Him and learned how to access his power. How I wish I could have helped those suffering and shown them a better way, Him working in me, bringing his blessed will to pass. If only. We will miss you my dear friend.

When you find yourself at the end of your rope, worn out, living amidst abiding misery, know this, God will make a way for you where there appears to be no way. He will lighten your soul by removing the heavy burdens. He will teach you and guide you and direct you into the path of life. When you are weak, He will strengthen you. When you are lost, He will show you the way. When you do not know what to do, He will teach you what to do, things you never understood before. I know life can be hard at times and in some instances, dreadful. But even then, God is most capable and willing to restore your lost joy and zest for living. There is always, always a way out and because of our infinite, everlasting God, you can always have hope. Rest in peace J.M.

Just some good thoughts…

Do Something!


march-forth-and-do-something-day-fun1When you take the time to consider how life works best, I think you will agree that life involves activity. Living things are not stagnant and if they become stagnant, generally, something has gone wrong. The beauty and the value of life is found in activity, not mindless movements and empty tasks, but meaningful activity that accomplishes some end. Human beings were meant to do something, not sit idly in a state of inertia doing nothing. Activity is the anecdote to restlessness and anxiety. There is always something to do and having nothing to do leads to fretting and focus on things that have no purpose or usefulness. Often the troubles we imagine were born in those times when we had nothing planned and thought it beneficial to “veg out” confusing it with relaxation and repose. Relaxation has its purpose; vacations have their purpose and periods of not feeling compelled to perform behaviors or tasks have their purpose. But nothingness and killing time and wasting away serves rather to damage us than to heal us. If you want to be immeasurably happier, you have to do something.

All of us have experienced the joy that follows a busy day; a day where we put our entire focus into what we were doing and nothing else. We are all familiar with the satisfaction that accompanies the completion of some needed project or necessary repair of a thing that was broken. Similarly, we all know the misery associated with doing nothing for too long or letting things go that call aloud for remedy. We were made to do things and we were made to engage with life. That is not to say that we should work ourselves to the bone or submit ourselves to endless “to do lists” or requirements. Life has a balance and a flow to it and we typically know when we are pushing too hard. Fun times and play time are usually enjoyed after the work is done and not before. We often wish we had more leisure time, but leisure time lost in inactivity seems to generate more stress than relaxation. We function best when we have some work to do and a complete withdrawal from all work tends to work against our own best interests. Retirement does not mean we go from doing much to doing nothing. It simply involves a shift of focus from required tasks to tasks we choose to require. Whether it be tending a garden or writing in a journal or rearranging the furniture or cleaning out the garage, we still need something to do if want to be okay. Choosing to do nothing or to do less and less doesn’t lead to better feelings, it leads to boredom and unrest and opportunities to seek out what is wrong with life and what appears to be wrong with us. Busy people have no time for such trifles as they have remained engaged in the activity of life. You have to do something!

This life we all are blessed to live has an infinite amount of things to be interested in. You aren’t miserable because you have run out of life to experience. You are miserable because you have stopped experiencing life. You have bought into the myth that life is better when you have nothing to do. As a human being, there is never a time when you have nothing to do. It doesn’t fit with God’s plan for life. Chances are there are many things you need to do but have stopped doing them or many things you could do but have chosen to disengage from them. All of us need to recharge at times. All of us need a break or an extended break. But, even when we are taking a break, life still requires us to do something with our time. I understand what happens to us. We get overtaxed and overburdened at times. We spend too much energy. We buy into the logic that our best times are when we have nothing to do. But, there is a vast difference between not working your job and choosing to do nothing. Doing nothing makes a vacation suck. Time spent ignoring things needing to be done sucks. Deferring things requiring completion for later sucks. Sitting around disengaging from life and the people in our lives sucks. In short, God intended for our lives to be filled with meaningful activity or meaningful inactivity, the point being we always need to do something!

Being unproductive works at cross purposes with the flow of life. Our job when we feel bored or feel things have become pointless or find ourselves trapped in painful, dull routines is to reengage with life. Life hasn’t changed. We have. We put in limitations where there is no limitation. We draw finite lines around our existence, never really considering that our Source of life is infinite. We simply stop doing life and over the years find ourselves entangled in a large bowl of nothingness. We live for the weekend while completely discounting Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday. We anxiously await the warmer weather when life still exists when it’s cold. We have succumbed to a fixed mindset where the options are few and our opportunities even less. We cannot go to dinner on a “school night.” We have to wait until the weekend to work on the flower beds. We cannot engage ourselves in things that interest us because we have already foolishly concluded there’s little that interests us. What an insult to Infinite Variety and the life He envisioned for us. You want to break out of your rut? Stop thinking so much and do something.

Human beings, life and happiness have their roots in activity. Meaningful activities or activities that have meaning to you are part of the human experience and cannot be excluded or reduced. Children are happier when they have something to do, even if they complain about doing it. Schedules and labor and obligations fuel the good times we enjoy. Good, old fashioned hard work does wonders for your soul. Think about your life and what you do and see if there aren’t things you have stopped doing or reduced or neglected and get back out there and do stuff. Don’t medicate inactivity with alcohol or television or sleep. Instead do, summon the energy to do and be and engage with your life. You just might find some stuff that has been waiting for you to do.

Just some good thoughts…

What’s the Point?


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

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

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

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

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

Just some good thoughts…

Hey Happiness, Where are You?


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

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

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

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

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

Just some good thoughts…