Stop Surviving, Start Thriving…


survival modePeculiar things can happen to you while you’re on the journey of life. You can lose the things you once possessed. Your path can imperceptibly become more difficult. The joy and the happiness you once enjoyed can be stolen from you and replaced with something less. Incredulously, you can even begin to work against your own best interests. What happens to a man or a woman that leads them to survive instead of thriving? It’s time to stop surviving and to start thriving!

No person alive would willfully choose to oppose themselves or work against their own best interests. Even animals instinctively know they have to fight for themselves; for their own lives. Yet this is what happens to people. They can become so broken down, so defeated internally that their only reasonable option seems to be survival. The reason this happens is because their opponent, who works in secret, develops and builds strongholds of error into their minds. These mental fortresses occupy and overrule their logic and paint pictures of life that aren’t actually true. Yet, because they appear true, their devastating effect is realized. People are defeated within the confines of their own heart. It’s no wonder God admonishes us to guard our hearts above all that can be guarded. Once these errors of thought take root, gain momentum and build strength, they render you as a drunken man, unable to discern with any clarity of thought. They rule with the iron fist of fear to the point that it seems more reasonable to limp along in life terrified of some potential outcome, more so than to take life on with its multiplicity of challenges and win. It’s the textbook definition of getting punked out; accepting failure and loss without even fighting back. Logic would seem to dictate that you only need to survive in life when you are out of all available options. Yet those in survival mode always have options as the the things they seek to escape aren’t actually a part of their reality, but rather a part of their imagined reality.

Once people find themselves in these self-made prison holes, it becomes very difficult to extricate themselves. They have been caught in the snare of the adversary and are taken captive by him at his will. In this they are captured alive like a bird that once had freedom of flight. They are not dead, thank God, but they may as well be in comparison to the misery they endeavor to survive day by day. A great teacher once remarked, “Choose your ruts wisely, for you may be in them for a long time.” Ruts are formed in the road by repeated travel down the same path to the point where a groove has been carved into the road. Try as you might, you just keep getting sucked back into the groove. Thus, the solution isn’t to keep going down the same paths over and over again hoping to jump up and out of the rut, but rather to stop traveling down that road altogether. The rut was developed within your own thoughts and you have to decide to make a new road. The reason we get trapped, myself included, is that we persist in thinking the same things that brought us down to begin with. If those things we continue to consider are a lie, our consideration of them, over and over and over, is not going to make them true. Rather, we strengthen the edifice; we build higher and stronger the opposing stronghold and suffer greatly as a result. There is no shame in recognizing that you have been captured, but rather in surrendering and choosing not to fight for yourself. God will always provide a way out, but you have to stand up for yourself and take it.

The only way to tear down those great citadels of error that exist in your mind is to begin to stand against them; to oppose them. It is the truth of the Word of God that sets you free and there is no other way to do it. You stop surviving by your refusal to go down those same paths. It is your human nature, your ego, your well nourished system of logic that is keeping you bound. Humility is the willingness to admit that you might be doing something wrong; that you might be working against your own best interests. The enemy of all goodness is counting on you to make the wrong choice by working on your ego, by those things you think that you already know. By the time you reach the rut; by the time you have become imprisoned by your own self, by the time that fear is the dominating factor in your life, you have already been captured. You’re in the trap! No amount of introspection will open the locks on the trap as it is your (and mine) incessant focus on yourself that got you there in the first place. Who told you that you were not good? Who convinced you that you have no power against the evil that has been threatening you night and day? It was a lie from the father of lies and the only reasonable escape is to stop your consideration of the lie! Stop surviving!

You can only begin to thrive when you rid yourself of the hinderances to your growth. You must cast down those reasoning thoughts against what God’s Word says is true and every exalted thing that stands in opposition to the truth. Once you stop going down the same path the rut will eventually fill back in. The smooth, flat road of the truth will encourage your forward movement. The truth considered and cleaved to will open every lock; break every chain or fetter the adversary has ever put around you and you will once again soar the heights of life where there is no fear. But, the starting point is your humility to God and the things He guarantees are true. Once you escape the false confines of self-made prison holes you can begin to recover yourself and return to sober minded thought that has no basis in fear, only love. And, as God lovingly and graciously gives you a change of heart to the acknowledging of the truth, you will be set free. You will be free to dream and expect and love and enjoy. You will be free to live your best possible life with accomplishment, success and exploits for God. You will stop listening to and acting on those damnable lies and will walk the new road of high endeavor. You will be the man or woman that God always wanted you to be, free to love, free to give, free to serve.

All of us are going to reach a point in our journeys where we have been deceived and suffer as a result of it. All of us are going to fall short. All of us are going to find ourselves in impossible ruts at times. All of us will find ourselves in despair, in survival mode. But the only good God of eternity is always willing to help us find the way back. God’s will is that we thrive. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Stop surviving and start thriving. It is God’s highest good for you. Thrive!

Just some good thoughts…

A New Year to Reconnect with Life…


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As we reflect on the past year, it is easy to think about all of the things we didn’t like and make grandiose plans for the coming new year. But, do we really need to do that? If we want to lose weight, did we not want to lose weight last year? If our aim is the elimination of bad habits, did we engage in those bad habits in the year that is ending now? The same logic could be applied infinitum. Thus it seems it’s not so much changing the small parts that make up our life as it is our attitude towards life as a whole. There is a reason we get too heavy; we engage in unhealthy behaviors; we become bored and depressed and seek something new, exciting and different. But, that which we seek really has nothing to do with the date on the calendar as much as it has to do with our overall general approach to the life we are living now. The life you are seeking underneath your list of new year’s resolutions is actually here already. You just need to reconnect with it. You need to reengage with life.

All living things are either living or dying, thriving or deteriorating. There is no status quo when it comes to life. And, as you no doubt have guessed already, living in this world there is a tendency towards deterioration and decay. It’s not how God originally planned it, but it is what it is at this point! The world is a frightfully negative place. Social media is negative. Your friends tend towards being negative. The circumstances you find yourself in – negative. It is how the world runs and it is how the world functions. Ever since that old snake got involved with God’s creation, decay replaced flourishing with loss and defeats becoming the order of the day. As such, it is no wonder we have all become disconnected with life. It’s not so much the world’s way that has defeated us as it is how we have let the world into our hearts. We expect things not to work out. We peer around the corner in good situations waiting for the the shoe to drop; the bad things to appear. We are not gluttons for punishment, but rather have been systematically trained to expect negativity; to look for the cracks; to find reasons not to maintain any semblance of hope or positive expectation. In this, over time, we have been swept away from life and not to life. And, in our ignorance, we have been led away from the source of life and all that could ever be good about life. We chase money and status and sunny days without troubles. We long to feel good again and long for the energy and enthusiasm that accompany that goodness. We promise ourselves to get better at this and stop doing that in the hopes that we can discover or rediscover that which we seemed to have lost. Enter the new year and its promise for better things ahead.

Curiously, instead of taking the time to think and consider what might have occurred that robbed us of our life or our happiness in life, we flap around on the surface of things assuring ourselves that if we only had more money or more time or more favorable circumstances, things would quickly take a turn for the better. Surely dry January will do the trick instead of learning what all that alcohol is replacing in our minds. We eat too much and hate the result, but never quite figure out why we are eating so much. All excesses, a thing we are all guilty of, point us to some missing element in our lives, some unresolved issue, some fear allowed to hang around and plague us. Fears and worries and our constant preoccupation with ourselves and whether or not we are going to be okay, suck the very life from us. The more we think we have finally figured out, the less we actually know, yet we keep persisting in the same game year after lousy year, loving life less and less as every year transpires. What, you’re thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years old and you already have figured everything out? You don’t need to make any changes in your thinking or your conclusions? You don’t need to consider that you have perhaps been led astray in some capacity? I submit to you, with all the honesty my soul can fathom, that if your life sucks it does so because you have been deceived in some category of life which you have yet to discover. You have, as my wife is wont to say, gotten entrenched in some fixed mindset that serves only to limit and curtail your life rather than to enhance it. Look, we are all in this thing together and there is nothing you are experiencing that all of us haven’t experienced at one time or another. We all get down in life and feel miserable. We all get wrapped up in stupidity and the things that rob life from us. We all get perplexed, lost, confused and afraid. That isn’t the issue at all. The issue is whether or not we can humble ourselves to figure out why and then at last find the way back. The way back exists regardless of the date on the calendar!

When you reconnect with life, you will find that life and God and goodness have been here all along. God is more than willing to teach you something new. He is infinitely capable of exposing the darkness that has been wearing you out. He sees all and knows all. If you are going to make a New Year’s resolution, resolve yourself to rediscover life. Step down from that old, high horse of ego and be willing to admit that something has gone astray. You know if things aren’t working for you so you might as well admit it! I’m not sure what it is about being a human being that convinces us there is nothing new to know; no new path to discover; no new road to take. Sometimes you just need to find someone you love and trust and talk things through with them. Then while you are discussing your plight, listen to what they have to say. There will be errors of thought and subsequent actions you are taking. Be open to it. Lord knows we all need help from the people that love us most. But, in the end, seek the help from the One most capable of providing it; the One that knows you better than you know your own self. Don’t spend any pointless time lamenting your past errors. If there wasn’t an adversary, all of us would likely remain error free. But, there is an adversary and he happens to be dang good at his game. Forgive yourself, learn and find that life you have been missing. No matter what has happened to you or how low you may have sunk, underneath it all are the everlasting arms of God, ready, willing and able to give you a fresh start! Reconnect with life. Reengage life, your life. Look for the promise of brighter days ahead no matter what the calendar is reporting. Happy New Year my friends and I love you.

Just some good thoughts…

I Don’t Know…


imagesThe three most feared words (or four if you don’t like contractions) in the human vocabulary. God forbid we should ever have to utter these words as doing so would certainly yield a cataclysmic result. It seems to be the last thing ever a man or a woman wants to admit. Yet, in all fairness and in all honesty, how much do we really understand about a life encompassing an infinite variety of variables? In our ignorance and our unwillingness to admit it, we typically assign false, made up causes or accept the first answer that appears in our Google search. We crave certainty, but live in a world chock full of uncertainty. We want answers, solutions, resolution and we want it now! Is it really so terrible, so alarming not to know the answer? I would submit that often we don’t even know the question. But even then, not knowing what we clearly do not know, may provide us with a starting point in our quest. Worse, not knowing and concluding that we do know, serves to immediately terminate our quest and stymies us from advancing any further. Is it really so bad to admit to ourselves that maybe we do not know? Is it a realistic expectation to know the answer to everything that comes our way? Would life get better immediately by our admission? Shoot, I don’t know. Or do I?

Human beings, as you already know, are strange, irrational creatures at times. We are loathe to admit that we do not know something. When good things happen to us, instead of searching out the matter, we assign causes, often false causes that appear the most readily available to explain the occurrence. We scan the surface for the information most obviously apparent to us and resist looking any deeper. We love the good things but don’t necessarily love to know the reason why the good is happening. Similarly and more commonly, when bad things happen to us or appear to be happening to us, we look to assign causes, most often false causes that provide the fastest and most apparent reason for the trouble. In this human creativity is almost unparalleled. Add to that a penchant for assuming all things revolve around us and must come as a result proceeding directly from us, assign blame that appears most closely related to what we are and are not doing. If someone teaches us things we must do in order to please God, when we do not engage in those requirements, we naturally assume the problems that are confronting us must have originated there. When our health is threatened or our bodies are not functioning as they should, we search within for any potential violations of good health according to the established experts and seek modifications therein. When our struggles involve a lack of resources or our needs are not being met, we look within to determine the cause, ending generally in some dire need to do something better, work harder, give more to those not so fortunate etc. But, what if we are wrong? What if the things we think we know are not the cause at all?

Obviously, God equipped man with a brain with the intention that he would use it. There is nothing wrong with problem solving, in fact there is everything right with it. But, when that problem solving process is illogical, irrational or plagued with false assumptions, there is nothing right in it. The reason people suffer with the exact same problems year after year is because they have not yet discovered the cause. They apply the exact same rules, the identical thinking, the same erroneous logic that got them into trouble in the first place. The persistence of the problem alone should have alerted them. Yet, being loathe to admit not knowing, they trudge along, stolen year after stolen year, suffering, plagued, oppressed, defeated. Instead of striving on and on in futility and despair, they would be better served to admit it. They do not know what is going on! There are important elements to their situation of which they are wholly unaware. There are variables craftily hidden from their view. There is a vitally important part of life that isn’t found on the surface or discovered with a quick Google search. The first step in discovery is a simple admission that you do not know. How could you know? Your parents could only teach you what they knew and as wonderful as they might have been, there was a limit also to what they knew. One reason you struggle in areas they also struggled with is because they taught you or demonstrated for you, the same erroneous views they held. There’s no shame in that, God bless them. The shame enters in when you know inside you do not know and still refuse to admit you do not know., a sin of which I have certainly been guilty. Thus the remedy is what it has always been, to humble yourself to that one great reality, namely that you do not know! If you suffer from anxiety, there is a reason. If you struggle with good health, there is a reason. If you cannot seem to prosper, there is a reason. Whatever ails you, whatever troubles you, whatever has gone astray in your life, behind it there is a reason and it likely has nothing to do with what you think! Admit you do not know and start a new journey.

When at last you become willing to admit you do not know, you open the door to know. God, who is all-knowing, always knows and He is more than willing to help you know. He requires nothing from you except a willingness on your part to seek Him out. He doesn’t need your arduous works and false sacrifices in order to help you, He needs your humble heart. He doesn’t delight in rituals or mantras or repetitious prayers, He delights in your heart to know Him and in knowing Him you will know what you need to do to prevail. There are answers to every problem you have ever had. There are solutions to which you have not yet even considered. But, you will never find them as long as you persist in insisting you know when you do not know! What is happening to you is common to all human beings in varying forms and intensities. There is nothing new under the sun. But, the solution is and always has been Him. It is okay not to know the answer, in fact it is often the most honest response. Don’t allow fear and difficulty to keep you bound in prison walls. Don’t allow ego and worldly logic to keep you from getting what you need. There is life waiting for you to live it, real life full of blessings, joy, love and peace.

If you know, you know. If you don’t know, admit it!

Just some good thoughts…

When the Thrill of Living is Gone…


If you’ve walked around on terra-firma long enough you know that life isn’t always a thrill ride packed with exciting adventures and challenge. In fact, it seems the older you become, the more routine and mundane it can get. Life by its very definition would seem to belie that notion. So, why does life end for some people long before they are dead?

It seems the simplest, most profound example is found in our children. Sure, you could make the argument that children live on the left side of life with so many experiences still ahead of them. But, I don’t think that answers the question to our total satisfaction. To simplify the math and lessen the boggle, if life had 100 possible experiences and children only occupied 10 of those experiences, then life would have 90 experiences left for the child which would presumably run short at some point. But, life’s expression is unlimited and humans don’t live long enough to exhaust its supply. So, there must be another answer…

Let’s assume because of the vastness of the creation and the endless variable combinations for happiness, the real issue lies not in the experience of life but in the experience of the end-user. Or better maybe, the thrill of life isn’t found in the experience, it’s found in the expectation and mindset of the experiencer! Children in stark contrast to adults are completely wide open to learning new things. Their expectation for life is fully alive and thriving. Instead of wrongly concluding they can already see, they are still looking for something. They instinctively know there is more to learn, more to see, more to experience. Their joy is found in their expectation. They are blessed because of their humble hearts! Their excitement is discovered in what they don’t know. They are all of us minus the life experience and wrong teaching. They aren’t a young version of us, they are a pure version of us…

Children have another distinct advantage over us, not by intention, but by virtue of how they live. Children, the budding prototypes, live only in the moment. Taking them back in time to review some wrong done takes effort. They are eager to move on from there and once you are satisfied, move on again. They don’t carry wrongs around like some weighted anchor, allowing them to color and experience their present. Instead they choose to live now and experience now. That is natural. That is human design. Rehearsing wrongs done; reviewing all that isn’t good with life now; dwelling on everything that isn’t how it “should” be or how you “want” it to be is a sickness that people have learned. It’s a sickness because none of those aspects, though very common, aid in getting you to the life you might enjoy. They serve only to color your experience and help you conclude, “the thrill of living is gone.”

You see, the problem with adulthood isn’t your age, it’s all the stupid, wrong stuff you started toting around to no benefit. You learned some cool stuff also and then wrongly concluded that you knew all stuff. You formed a skeleton sketch of learning then attempted to hang every new concept somewhere on that skeleton. You thought you already knew and in knowing closed yourself off to life; real life! Now no-one can tell you anything. All of your cause and effects have already been caused and effected. You cannot find an answer to your suffering because you already know why you are suffering, but you also somehow know it cannot be remedied. You are smart and by God, you know stuff! And in your knowing, you know that an unfulfilled life or an unhappy life is to be expected and you should just be happy that you woke up today! So I ask, is being awake as opposed to being asleep enough or do you need someone or something to really wake you up?

Have you ever had someone die that you love or suffered some other catastrophic event that sort of snapped you back into reality? Did the negative event truly bring you back around or did the negative event cause you to reconsider or even rethink what you thought you already knew? I think it is the latter… But, I also think we don’t need tragedy or negativity to wake us up. It seems we need to find that humility and coach-ability we had when we didn’t know so much. Perhaps we need to view life through a different lens. One that isn’t so quick to conclude and categorize and judge. Maybe, just maybe all the things we think we know so well, we really don’t understand at all. Perhaps we are doing something in our own hearts that sours and tires our own experience? Maybe we have grown so accustomed to the boredom; to the lack of vitality that we consider it to be normal. Possibly someone has sold us all a lie…

So, how can you get your thrill back? You have to check back in with life. You’ve got to drop like a hot rock your endless presumptions and assumptions, predictions and analysis. You’ve got to come clean with life and quit pretending you know when you don’t know. You must return to asking questions; lots and lots of questions. Inquire about things you previously thought you knew about. Break out of your routines that no longer serve you. Break out of anything that no longer works for you. And above all else, like a child, return to your unchastened, unrestricted honesty. Get honest about how things are and how you feel and quit pretending because everyone else is pretending! Refuse to assume it is just the way life is as life by definition is everything but that!

Finally, come back to life’s Author and Creator, who can make known to you the path of life, in whom’s presence there is fullness of joy and at whose right hand there are pleasures forever more… That, my friends, is a thrilling, exciting and adventuresome life!

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

Solving Your Problems…in the Light


bc26eadfb2bd120634d391866cf270fbHey you, you got a problem? Yeah man, I got a few problems and I’m not sure how to solve them! Maybe not the response you’d expect when the aforementioned question is usually posed in a moment of bravado. But, if you’re honest, you know you’ve got a few and they are dragging you down! By definition a problem becomes a problem because you don’t know how to solve it. Sure, you’ve given it a lot of thought. Yes, you’ve tried to overcome it but you are just stuck and you know it. So, let me shed some light on how to solve your problems because you need to solve them!

Let me start by saying I’m just like you. Yeah I love God and yes I’m connected to the Source of all goodness. But, like you I get caught up in my own issues. Some I’ve had for years. Some I invent to ruin a day. Some just go beyond my ability to figure them out. Some days I’m living in a peaceful nirvana and other days I’m wandering in the desert. It’s just how life is and to think otherwise is just foolish. We all have our very own personal antagonist whose job it is to drive us “nucking futs!” None of us enjoy it and all of us wish it would just stop. But sadly, it won’t stop until we learn to overcome it! God never promised life would be annoyance free. He promised that we would always have “the answer” we needed to overcome the challenge. Now there’s a day coming when those challenges will be forever gone, but that day aint today!

Our annoyances and problems come in many forms. Some are temporal like my foot hurts and I wanted to run today. Others are more long-standing and are going to require some humility on our part to overcome. Imagine that something is hurting in your body (like my foot). While the pain is going on, you can be assured the pain issue is going to be in the forefront of your thinking. That’s why you have the pain. You are being skillfully alerted to an issue that needs to be remedied. But, what about your more longstanding dramas? The ones that make you ponder, why do I always do…such and such, when I already know I hate it? The famous Apostle Paul said it best. To paraphrase he (actually God) said, “The things I know I should do, I don’t do and the things I hate, those I constantly do!” What a conundrum, huh?

You probably aren’t aware of it but all of us believer types have something called an old man nature. He’s best characterized by one prevailing attitude, namely, “You can’t tell me shit!” LOL forgive me. Said in more polite terms, “I think I already know the answers!” The great difference between the know it all you and the happy-go-lucky 8-year-old (my grandson Braylon) is that he knows he doesn’t already know and wants to learn and you already know and are thus closed off to learning. Everyone’s problem, everywhere, can be summed up in that simple statement. There is a solution to EVERY dilemma you have ever found yourself in, but you have to become humble with the heart of a child to get your answer!  Yes, you need to read that again! I’m not sure how we got so damn smart, but trust me, we aren’t very smart at all.

God, the originator of life, knows the solution to every stupid thing that ever dragged you down. He knows why your foot hurts; why your heart hurts and why you aren’t happy. He sees through all of the malarkey and disguises. He also suffers while His precious children suffer, trudging down the same roads with the same predictable outcomes. But, in order to rescue you from yourself, He needs some cooperation on your part. He needs you to humble yourself. Not humble in the religious sense whereby you whip yourself into supposed submission. Humble in the true sense where you finally admit you do not know! Those little admissions go a long way in getting to you to the mountain tops!

The starting point in overcoming your problems is to get to the light! Not get to the answer, but get to the light. Turn a light on so you can finally see something. What does God say about your situation? What does God’s Word say about how you have been thinking? Life is spiritual and often the source of your problem is something you’ve never even considered. You just don’t see the connection. So, you have to shut the old guy up and think something different. Now don’t you get all puffy and tell me you have to exercise more discipline! Are 8 year old’s disciplined? The solution isn’t more crap you have to do to somehow measure up to God’s solutions. The solution is in opening your weary heart to something bigger and smarter than yourself! Your answer will be found in your humility.

Moses was the most meek guy on the planet and God spoke to him face to face like a man speaks to his friend. Trust me, that is something that you want! God cares about every aspect of your life. From insomnia to foot pain to heartfelt fulfillment, He cares and has your answer. Your job isn’t to find a way to limp along. Your job is to get to the solution so you can be whole in every aspect of your being. In that abiding wholeness you will have found God and there’s nothing better than that!

Do you find yourself overwhelmed lately? Is life starting to get you down? Are you struggling to muster up a smile on your face? Well, something has gone wrong folks and you need to find the answers. Don’t numb yourself with too many drinks or the television or whatever else gives you a reprieve from thinking. Instead humble yourself like the heart of a child. Admit you don’t know and that you are struggling. You may be adept at lying to other people, but don’t lie to yourself (or worse, to God). Complain to the management people because the ultimate Manager knows the solutions!

Hey you, you got a problem? Well, yes actually I do, but God has got my solution?

Just some good thoughts…